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^MJOVKhiruCL lull I.IE-lltAin 

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Harvard Depository 
Brittle Book 





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Instituted 1799. 





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Preface •.•..»•.••• 5 


Q Israel return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen 
hy thine iniquity.^ Take with you words, and turn to the 
Ix>ni : say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive 
us graciousljr: (ot give gwd:) so will we render the 
"v. 1, f 

calves of our lips.— ^Hosea xiv. 1, 2. 


So will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not 
save ua; we will not ride upon horses : neither will we 
say any more to the work of our hands, Te are our gods, 
&C.— Hoiea ziv. 2, 3 59 

Same text 8S 


Asshur shall not save us ; we will not ride upon horses : 
neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, 
Ye are our gods ; for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy. 
I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely : 
for mine anger is turned away from him. — Hosea xiv. 

3,4 128 


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I will be as (he dew unto Israel : lie shall g^w as the lily, 
and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His brandies shall 
spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his 
smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow 
shall return ; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as 
te vine : the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Le- 
banon.«-Hosea xiv. 5—7 , • . 1 73 


Ephraim shall nayf What have I to do any more with idols P 
I have heard hiin, and observed him : I am like a green 
fir-tree. From me is thy fruit fbund.-*Ho8ea xiv. 8.. . . 223 


Who is wise, and he shall understand these things ? pru* 
dent, and he shall know them P for the ways of the Lord 
are right, and the just shall walk in them : but the trans- 
gressors shall fall therein.— Hosea xiv. 9 26 1 

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Christian reader, understanding that my sermon, which was 
preached three years since before the Honourable House of 
Commons, on the day of their solemn humiliation, was to be 
reprinted, I thought fit to peruse, transcribe, and enlarge six 
other sermons, in which I had at mine own charge in the 
country, on the ensuing fest days, briefly explained and applied 
that whole chapter, (a portion only whereof was in the first 
handled,) and to send them forth together with it unto the 
public. Which I was the rather induced to do for these two 
reasons. 1. Because it hath pleased God in his righteous and 
holy providence to make me, by a long infirmity, unserviceable 
to his church in the principal work of the ministry, the preaching 
of the gospel, which is no small grief unto me. So that there 
remained no other means whereby my life might, in regard of 
my function, be useful to the church, and comfortable to myself, 
than by inverting the words of the Psalmist, and as he made 
his tongue as the pen of a ready writer, so to make my pen the 
tongue of an unready speaker. 2. 1 considered the seasonable- 
ness and suitableness of these meditations unto the condition of 
the sad and disconsolate times wherein we live, very like those 
which our prophet threatened the ten tribes withal throughout 
this whole prophecy, xmto which this last chapter is a kind of 
use, and a most solemn exhortation pressing upon all wise and 
prudent men such duties of humiliation and repentance, as 
might turn threats into promises, and recover again the mercies 
which by their sins they had forfeited and forsaken: which being 
restored unto them according to their petition, they are here 
likewise furthsi inshracted in what manner to return unto God 

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the prases due to his great name. And these two duties of 
humiliation and thanksgiving, are the most solemn duties, whicb 
in these times of judgments and mercies, so variously interwoven 
together, the Lord doth so frequently call us unto. 

Places of scripture I have for brevity sake, for the most part, 
only quoted and referred thee unto, without transcribing all the 
words, and have usually put many parallel places together, 
because by that means they do not only strengthen the doctrine 
whereunto they belong, but mutually give light unto one another. 

The Lord make us all in this our day so wise and prudent, as 
to understand the righteous ways of our God towards us : that 
we may not stumble at them, but walk in them, and be taught 
by them to wait upon him in the way of his judgments, and to 
fbi the desires of our soul upon his name as our great refuge, 
and upon his righteousness as our great business, till he shall be 
pleased by the dew of his grace, to revive us as the com, to 
make us grow as the vine, and to let the scent of all his ordi- 
nances be over all our land, as the smell, and as the wine of 

It will be an abundant return unto my poor and weak endea- 
vours, if I may have that room in thy prayers which the apostle 
Paul desired to have in the prayers of the Ephesians, that utter- 
ance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly 
to preach the mystery of the gospel. 

The Lord sanctify all the ways of his providence towards us, 
that when we are chastened, we may be taught, and may be 
greater gainers by the voice of his rod, than we are sufferers by 
the stripes. 

A.i>. 1658. 

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The blessing of Ephraim was according to his name, 
fruitfulness. The fruitfulness of the earth, a bough 
by a well, and the fruitfulness of the womb, and of 
the breasts, Gen. xlix. 22. 25. Deut. xxxiii. 13 — 17. 
Contrary unto which two blessings, we find in our 
prophet two judgments threatened against him for his 
sins, chap. xiii. 15, 16. ^* Though he be fruitful amongst 
his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the 
Lord shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring 
shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up, 
he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. 
Samaria shall become desolate, for she hath rebelled 
against her God : they shaU fall by the sword ; their 
infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women 
with child shall be ript up.'' And throughout the 
whole prophecy, if you read and observe it, you will 
find the judgments of God against Ephraim to be 
expressed by weeds, emptiness, barrenness, dryness of 
roots, of fruits, of branches, of springs, and by a 
curse upon their children, as on the other side, the 

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blessings here in this chapter renewed unto Ephraim 
repenting, are all expressed by metaphors of fruitful- 
ness, ver. 5 — 7. 

From these two woful judgments, against the 
fruitful ness of their springs, and the fruitfiilness of their 
wombs, by the desolations of a bloody sword, our 
prophet taketh occasion, once more for all, to awaken 
and drive them to a timely repentance ; that so they 
may recover the blessing of their name, Ephraim may 
be Ephraim again, a plentiful, a fruitful, a flourishing 
people ; that when God's judgments are in the 
eartli, they would t^n at least set themselves to leam 

Of all nations under heaven, this land of ours hath 
had the blessing of Ephraim upon it, frtdtfulness of 
the earth, abundance of plenty; frxdtfulness of the 
womb, abundance of people. But our misery is, that 
the abundance of our sins hath mightily outvied the 
abundance both of our plenty and of our people : sins, 
too, parallel to those of Ephraim, if you will but read 
this prophet^ and compare the behaviour of this nation 
with him. And this parity of sins hath no doubt 
called upon God for a parity of judgments. Though 
I must read my text, " O Israel," yet I must apply it, 
« O England," " return unto the Lord thy God, for 
thou hast fallen by thine iniquity, take with you 
words," &c. 

The whole context contains two general parts. 

I. An invitation unto repentance, ver. 1. and, 

II. An instruction how to perform it, in the two 
verses following. 

Before we come to the particulars of the invitation, 
let us first briefly observe, that in the midst of judg- 
ments proposed against sinners that are obstinate, 
God doth reserve and proclaim mercy unto sinnera 

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ON HOSSA XIV.— VERfC 1, 2. 9 

that are penitent. When a consumption is decreed, 
yet a remnant is reserved to return, Isa. x. 22, 23. 
Tlie Lord will keep his vineyard, when he will bum 
up the thorns and the briers together, Isa. xxvii. 3, 4. 
Wlien a day of fierce anger is determined, the meek 
of the eardi are called upon to seek the Lord, Zeph. ii 3. 
When the Lord is coming out of his place to punish 
the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity, he calls 
upon his pMSople to hide themselves in their chambers, 
until the indignation be overpast, Isa. xxvi. 20, 21. 
The angel who was sent to destroy Sodom, had withal 
a commission to deliver Lot, Gen. xix. 15. God 
made full provision for those who mourned for public 
abominations, before he gave order to destroy the 
rest, Ezek. ix. 4. 6. Men in then: wrath will many 
times rather strike a friend than spare a foe ; but God's 
proceedings are without disorder, he will rather spare 
bis foes tlutn strike his servants, as he showed himself 
willing to have done in the case of Sodom, Gen. 
xviii. 26. Moses stood in the gap, and diverted 
judgments from Israel, Psal. cvi. 23. Yea, God seeks 
for such, Ezek. xxii. 30. and complains when they 
cannot be found, Ezek. xiii. 5. And if he deliver 
others for them, certainly he will not destroy them 
for others. However it go with the world and with 
wicked men, it shall go well with the righteous, 
there shall be a sanctuary for them when others 
stumble, and they shall pass through the fire, when 
others are consumed by it, Isa.iii. 10, 11. viii.l4 — 16. 
Zech. xii. 8, 9. 

The reasons hereof are, first, God's justice — ^he will 
not punish the righteous with the wicked ; he will have 
it appear that there is a " difference between him that 
serveth God, and him that serveth him not," Gen, 
xviii. 23. Mai. iii. 18. Also, God's love unto Viis people. 

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He hath a hook of remenihrance written hefore him^ 
for them that fear him, and think upon his name ; 
** And they shall he mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in 
that day when I make up my jewels, and I will spare 
them as a man spareth his own son that serveth hmi/' 
Mai. iii. 6. 17. Here is a climax and gradation of 
arguments drawn from love. In a great fire, and 
devouring trouble, (such as is threatened, chap. iv. 1.) 
property alone is a ground of care; a man would 
willingly save and secure that wliich is his own, and 
of any use unto him ; but if you add unto this, pre- 
ciousnesB, that increaseth the care. A man will make 
hard shift to deliver a rich cabinet of jewels, though 
all his ordinary goods and utensils should perish. But 
of all jewels, those which come out of the body are 
much more precious than those which only adorn it. 
Who would not rather snatch his child than Ids casket 
or purse out of a flame : relation works not only upon 
the affection, but upon the most tender feelings of the 
heart, Jer. xxxi. 20. And lastly, the same excellency 
that the word jewel adds unto the word miTie; the 
same excellency service adds unto the word 8on, A 
man hath much conflict in himself to take off his heart 
from an undutiful son. Never was there a worse son 
than Absalom, and yet how did David give charge to 
the commanders to have him spared ! How inquisi- 
tive after his safety I How passionately and unseason- 
ably mournful upon the news of his death ! But if 
any child be more a jewel than another, certainly it is 
a dutiful child, who hath not only an interest in our 
love by nature, but by obedience. All these grounds 
of care and protection for God's people in trouble are 
here expressed — ^property, they are mine ; preciousness, 
they are jewels, treasures, ornaments unto me; 
relation, they are sons ; usefolness, they are sons that 

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serve : none could look on a thing so many ways lovely, 
with the same eye as upon a professed and provoking 

Lastly, God's name and glory — He hath spared his 
people even in the midst of their provocations for his 
name's sake, Deut. xxxiii. 26, 27. Josh. vii. 9. How 
much more when they repent and seek Ids face ! He 
will never let it be said, that any " seek the Lord in 
vain," Isa. xlv. 19. 

But it may be objected, does not Solomon say, that 
all things happen alike unto aU ? and that '' no man 
can know love or hatred by that which is before him ?*' - 
Eccl. ix. 1, 2. And is it not certain and common, 
that in public desolations good as well as bad do 
perish ? Does not the sword devour as well one as 
another ? 

It is true, God does not always distingiush his 
servants from wicked men by temporal deliverances : 
troubles commonly and promiscuously involve all 
sorts ; but there are these two things to be remarked 
in it. 

1. That many times the good suffer with the bad, 
because they are together corrupted with them, and 
when they join in the common provocations, no 
wonder if they suffer in the common judgments, 
Rev. xviii. 4. Nay, the sins of God's people do 
(especially in this case) more provoke him unto 
outward judgments than the sins of his professed 
enemies, itoiuse they expose his name to the more 
contempt, 2 Sam. xii. 14. and are committed against 
the greater love, Amos iii. 2. and he hath Kiture 
judgment for the wicked, and therefore usually begin- 
neth here at Ids own sanctuary, Ezek. ix. 6. 1 Pet. 
IV. 17. 

2. When good men, who have preserved themselves 

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from public sins, do yet fall by public judgmentst yet 
there is a great difference in this seeming equsdity, 
the same affliction having, like the pillar that went 
before Israel, a light side towards God's people, and a 
dark side toward the Egyptians. God usually recom- 
pensing the outward evils of Ms people with more 
plentifdi evidences of inward and spiritual joy. A 
good man may be in great darkness as well as a 
wicked man, but in that case he hath the name of God 
to stay lumself upon, which no wicked man in the 
.vorld hath, Isa. 1. 10. The metal and the dross go 
both into the fire together, but the dross is consumed, 
the metal refined. So is it with the godly and wicked 
in their sufferings, Zech.xiii. 9. Ecol. viii. 12, 13. 

This reproves the folly of those who in time of 
trouble rely upon vain things which cannot help them, 
and continue their sins still. For judgments make no 
difference of any but penitent and impenitent ; sickness 
does not compliment with an honourable person, but 
uses liim as coarsely as the base. Death knocks as 
well at a prince's palace as a poor man's cottage ; 
wise men die as well as fools. Yet poison usually 
works more violently when tempered with wine, than 
with some duller and baser material. In times of 
trouble usually the greater the persons, the closer the 
judgments. When Jerusalem was taken, the nobles 
were slain, but the poor of the land had vineyards and 
fields given them, Jer. xxxix. 6. 10. 

Therefore, in troubles we should be more humbled 
for our sins than our sufferings, because sin is the sting 
of suffering. That mercies should not win us, that 
judgment should not awaken us, that the rod should 
speak, and we not hear, Mic. vi. 9. that the fire 
should burn, and we not feel, Isa. xlii. 25. that deso- 
lation should be threatened and we not be instructed, 

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Jer. vi. 8. that the hand of God should be lifted up, 
and we not see it, Isa. xxvi. 11. that darkness should be 
upon us, and we not give glory to God, Jer. xiii. 16. 
This is that which should most deject us, that in 
mercies we have been wanton, and in judgments 
senseless. Get repentance by an affliction, and then 
you may look on it as traffic, and not as a troublcr 
like a merchanlf s voyage, which hath pidn in the way. 
but treasure in the end. No afflictions can hurt him 
who is penitent. If thou escape, they will make thee 
the more thankful ; if not, they will bring thee the 
nearer and the sooner unto God. 

The way to be safe in times of trouble, is to get the 
blood of the lamb upon our doors, Exod. xii. 13. 23. 
All troubles have their commission and instructions 
from God, what to do, whither to go, whom to touch, 
whom to pass over. Be gold, and though the fire come 
upon you, you shall keep your nature and purity still. 
Godliness, sidth the apostle, hath the promises of this 
life ; and amongst those one special one is, that we shall 
not be tempted above what we are able, 1 Cor. x. 13. 
neither are there indeed any distresses against wliich 
there is not a refuge and escape for penitent sinners 
unto some promise or other. Against captivity: 
" When they be in the land of their enemies, I will 
oot cast them away, nor abhor them," Lev. xxvi. 44. 
Against famine and pestilence : " If I shut up heaven 
that there be no rain, or if I command the locust to 
devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my 
people. If my people which are called by my name, 
shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, 
and turn from their wicked ways ; then will I hear 
from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal 
theii land,'' 2 ChrOn. vii. 13, 14. Against sickness : 
*♦ The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed "of 

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languishing, and make all his hed in his sickness,^ 
Psal. xli. 3. Against poverty : " When the poor and 
needy seek water, and there is none, 1 the Lord will 
hear them," &c. Isa. xli. 17. Psal. Ixviii. 10. Against 
want of friends : " When my fatlier and mother forsake 
me, then the Lord will take me up," Psal. xxvii. 10. 
Ixxii. 12. Against oppression and imprisonment: 
He " executeth judgment for the oppressed. The 
Lord looseth the prisoners," Psal. cxlvi. 7. Against 
" whatsoever plague or trouble," 1 Kings viii. 37 — 89. 
He is the God of all consolation ; how disconsolate 
soever a man's condition is in any kind there cannot 
but be, within the compass of all consolation^ some 
one remedy or other at hand to comfort and relieve 

In the invitation, we have the matter of it, and the 
motives to it : the matter is conversion ; without that, 
the hand which is lifted up in threatening will fall 
down in punishing, and where that is, God hath a 
book of remembrance for his jewels, when his wrath 
bumeth as an oven against the stubble, Mai. iii. 16. 

But this conversion then must have two conditions 
in it. 

1. It must be to the Lord : not merely philoso- 
phical, to some low and general dictates of reason, 
such as Aristotle, or Plato, or Epictetus, or Plutarch, 
or the like heathen moralists, could furnish us withal, 
without self-denial, lowliness of spirit, or faith in 
Christ ; nor merely political, to crcdit, or profit, or 
secular ends, or, as our prophet hath it, " for com 
and for wine," Hos. vii. 16. as good be an empty 
vine, as bring forth fruit only to ourselves, Hos. x. 1. 
— but it must be spiritual, unto the Lord. " If thou 
wilt return, O Israel, saith the Lord, return unto me,** 
Jer. iv. 1. And not only to the Lord, for that may 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSE 1,2. ^15 

be done falsely, and flatteringly, with a halting and 
divided heart ; by the force of semi-persuasions, like 
that of Agrippa, and Orpah, complimenting with God, 
and then forsaking him ; by the force of compulsory 
impressions, like that of Pharaoh and Israel in the 
wilderness, — ^promises on the rack, and pride when 
there was respite again, thawing in the sun, and freez- 
ing in the shade, melting in the furnace, and out of 
it returning unto hardness again, like the prophet'^s 
cake, burnt on the one side, and dough on the other ; 
—but it must be, Hosea vii. 8. 

8. A ftiU, thorough, constant, continued conver- 
sion, with a whole, a fixed, a rooted, a united, an 
established heart, yielding up the whole conscience 
and conversation to be ruled by God's will in all 

motives to this duty are two : 1. His mercy ; 
he is yet thy God. No such argument for our turning 
unto God as his turning unto us. Adam looks on 
him as ?i judge, and hides ; the prodigal looks on him 
as a father, and returns. As the beam of the sun 
shining on fire discourages the burning of that, so 
the shining of God*s mercies on us should dishearten 
and extinguish lust in us ; this is the use we should 
make of mercy. Say not. He is my God, therefore I 
may presume upon him ; but. He is mine, therefore I 
must return unto him. Because he is God, I will be 
airaid to provoke him ; and because he is mine, I will 
be afraid to forfeit him. He is so great, I must not 
dare to offend him ; he is so precious, * I must not 
venture to lose him. His mercy is a holy mercy, 
which knows how to pardon sin, but not to protect it. 
It is a sanctuary for the penitent, not for the presump- 
tuous. 2. His judgment, and that expressed rather 
as our act than his, Thou hast &llen by thine iniquity. 

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If mercies do not work upon love, let judgments work 
upon fear. Extremities are a warrant unto importu- 
nities. Even heathen mariners, in a storm will cry 
mightily upon God. When there is a deluge coming, 
is it not time for Noah to fear, and to prepare an ark ? 
Heh. xi. 7. What meanest thou, O thou sleeper, to 
lose the season and benefit of God's visitations ? when 
there is a tempest over the ship, heavy distresses, and 
distractions both at home and abroad, to be so secure 
in thy wonted impenitency, as if thou hadst had no 
sins to procure these judgments, or no sense to feel 
them ? as if there were agreements, and sealed cove- 
nants between thee and the sword, that it should not 
touch thee ? If thou be falling, is it not high time to 
consider thy ways ? to search and to judge thyself? to 
have thine eyes, like the windows of Solomon's temple, 
broad inwards, to find out thine own provocations, 
and, as David speaks, to keep thyself from thine own 
iniquity ? 

Thus, when in one and the same time, mercies and 
judgments are intermixed, then is the most solemn 
season to call upon men for repentance. If we felt 
nothing but fears, they might make us despair; if 
nothing but mercies, they would make us secure. If 
the whole year were summer, the sap of the earth 
would be exhausted; if the whole were winter, it 
would be quite buried. The hammer breaks metal, 
and the fire melts it, and then you may cast it into any 
shape. Judgments break, mercies melt, and then, if 
ever, the soul is fit to be cast into God's mould. There 
is no figure in all the prophets more usual than this, 
to interweave mercies and judgments ; to allure and to 
bring into a wilderness, Hos. ii. 14. And this of all 
other is the critical time of diseased people, wherein 
the cliief conjuncture lieth, whether they are mending 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSE 1, idT. 17 

or ending, according to the use which they make of 
such interwoven mercies. 

I have cursorily run over the first part of the con- 
text — ^the invitation unto repentance, — as intending to 
enlarge on the second, whicn is — 

II. The instruction how to perform it. Therein 
we have, 1. A general instruction, *' Take unto you 
words ;" 2. A i^rticular form, what words they should 
take, or a petition drawn to their hands, '* Take away 
all iniquity," &c. 

1. A general instruction. Of this I shall speak but a 
little. It imports the serious pondering and choosing of 
requests to put up to God. The mother of Artaxerxes, 
in Plutarch, was wont to say, that they who would 
address themselves unto princes, must use silken 
words. Surely he that would approach unto God, 
must consider, and look as well to his words as to his 
feet He is so holy and jealous of his worship, that 
he expects there should be preparation in our accesses 
unto nim. Preparation of our persons by purity of 
life. Job xi. 13. Preparation of our services, by choice 
of matter, John ix. 31. Luke xv. 17, 18. Preparation 
of our hearts, by finding them out, stirring ttiem up, 
fixing them, fetching them in, and calh'ng together all 
that is within us, to prevail with God. 

The services which we thus prepare must be taken 
from him. They must not be the issues of our own 
private and fleshly hearts. For nothing can go to 
God, but that which comes from him ; and this phrase 
seems to import these three things. 1. We must 
attend unto his will, as the rule of our prayers. 2. We 
must attend unto his precepts and promises, as the 
matter of our prayers. 3. We must attend unto the 
guidance of his Holy Spirit, as the life and principle of 
our prayers, wiUiout which we know not what to ask. 

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And prayers tlms regulated are most seasonable, 
and sovereign duties in times of trouble; the key 
which opens a door of mercy, the sluice which 
keeps out an inundation of judgments. Jacob 
wrestled and obtained a blessing, Hos. xii. 4. Amos 
prayed, and removed a curse, Amos vii. 3. 7, 8. The 
woman of Canaan will not be denied with a denial. 
Matt. XV. 24. 27. The people of Israel will beg for 
deliverance, even then when God had positively told 
them, tliat he would deliver them no more, Judg. x. 
13. 15. Jonah will venture a prayer from the bottom 
of the sea, when a double death had seized upon him, 
the belly of the deep, and the belly of the whale, and 
that prayer of his opened the doors of the leviathan, 
as the expression is. Job xli. 14. and made one of those 
deaths a deliverance from the other. 

O let the Lord's remembrancers give him no rest. 
There is a kind of omnipotence in prayer, as having 
an interest and prevalence with God's omnipotence. 
It hath loosed iron chains ; it hath opened iron gates ; 
it hath unlocked the windows of heaven ; it hath 
broken the bars of death. Satan hath three titles 
given him in the scripture, setting forth his malignity 
against the church of God. A dragon, to note liis 
malice ; a serpent, to note liis subtlety ; and a lion, to 
note his strength : but none of all these can stand 
before prayer. The greatest malice, the malice of 
Haman, sinks under the prayer of Esther ; the deepest 
policy, tlie counsel of Ahithophel, withers before the 
prayer of David ; the largest army, a host of a 
thousand thousand Ethiopians, run away like cowards 
before the prayer of Asa. 

How should this encourage us to treasure up our 
prayers ! to besiege the throne of grace with armies 
of supplications I to refuse a denial ! to break through 

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a repulse! God hath hiessed those whom he did 
cripple ; he hath answered those whom he did reproach ; 
he hath delivered those whom he did deny ; and he is 
tlie same yesterday and to day. If he save in six and 
in seven troubles, should not we pray in six and seven 
extremities ? Certainly, in all the afflictions of the 
church, when prayers are strongest, mercies are 

And therefore let me humbly recommend, amongst 
all other pressing affairs, the providing that those 
solemn days, wherein the united prayers of this whole 
kingdom should with strongest importunities stop the 
breaches, and stand in the gaps of which judgments 
are ready to rush in upon us, may with more obedience 
and solemnity be observed, than indeed of late they 
are. It is true, here, and in other cities, and populous 
places, there is perhaps less cause to complain. But 
who can without sorrow and shame behold in our 
country towns, men so unapprehensive either of their 
brethren's sufferings, or of their own sins and dangers, 
as to give God quite over, to let him rest, that they 
themselves may work, to come in truth to Jehoram's 
resolution. Why should they wait upon God any 
longer ? to grudge their brethren's and their own 
souls and safeties one day in thirty, and to tell all the 
world that indeed their day*s work is of more value 
with them than their day's worship ; multitudes drudg- 
ing and moyling in the earth, while their brethren 
are mourning and besieging of Heaven. I do but 
name it, and proceed, — 

2. To the particular form suggested unto them, 
according unto which their addresses unto God are to 
be regulated ; — it consisted of two parts — a prayer, 
and a promise. The prayer is for two benefits ; the 
one, removal of sin, the other conferring of good. 

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In the promise or re-stipulation we have first their 
covenant, wherein they promise two things; 1. 
Thanksgiving for the hearing and answering of their 
prayers; 2. A special care for the amendment of 
their lives : and, secondly, the ground ol their con- 
fidence so to pray, and of their resolution so to pro- 
mise, ** Because in thee the fatherless findeth mercy." 
My meditations will be confined within the first of 
these — the prayer of the church in their fears and 
sufferings ; wherein I shall begin, in the prophet's order, 
with their prayer against sin, ** Take away all iniquity." 
The word signifies, 1. To expiate^ and make atone- 
ment by a sacrifice. So the scape-goat (which was 
a sign of Christ our sacrifice as risen and living again) 
is said to carry the sins of the people into the wilder- 
ness, Lev. xvi. 22, Thereby signifying Christ's 
taking our sins from us, John i. 29. Heb. ix. 28. 
2. To forgive, which in the court of mercy is the taking 
of sin away, Psal. xxxii. 1.5. 8. To remove or take 
away by destroying. So it is used, Hos. i. 6. Job 
xxxii. 22. and is sometimes used to express burning, 
2 Sam. V. 21. Nahum i. 5. sin is said to be destroyed^ 
Rom. vi. 6. to be subdued, Mic. vii 19. to be purged 
away with the spirit of jud^ent and burning, Isa. 
iv. 4. The meaning then is. Take away all our sins 
from us, lay them upon Christ our sacrifice ; for hi» 
merit pardon them, by his grace destroy and subdue 
them, that so the root of judgments being removed* 
they likewise may therewithal be removed too. From 
hence the observation, which I shall insist upon 
is this : 

When God threateneth judgments, we in our con- 
version unto him should pray against sins. Our eye 
of sorrow should be more upon that which disho- 
nours him, than upon that which afflicts ourselves ;. 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSE 1, 2. 21 

more upon that which is contrary to his image, than 
upon that which is contrary to our own nature ; more 
upon that which defiles, than upon that which pains 
us. Pharaoh cares for nothing but the removal of 
death : Simon Magus for nothing but to have perdition 
and the gall of hittemess kept from him. But good 
men, like wise physicians, cure the disease at the root, 
as Elisha did the waters by putting salt into the spring 
head. Tlie angel was smiting the people with a 
plague ; David betakes himself to the right remedy, — I 
have sinned, I have done wickedly : he goes not to 
the physicians, hut to the altar to make atonement for 
sin ; and so the plague was stayed. Destruction was 
threatened against Israel for their calf, their mur- 
murings, their rebellions ; Moses stands in the gap to 
divert it. But how doth he do it ? surely by praying 
against their sins ; O this people have sinned a great 
sin, O that thou wouldest forgi ve them ! Exod. xxxii .31. 
A sick man was brought to Christ to be healed. Matt. 
ix. 2 ; Christ overlooks the disease, and begins at the 
sin : Son, be of good cheer, thy sins are forgiven 
thee : and this being forgiven, the malignity of the 
disease was removed, though the matter should have 
remained. This was the usual method of David in his 
troubles, to throw over these Shebas that had wrought 
his woe ; Blot out, wash thoroughly, cleanse, create, 
renew. He is far more importunate for pardon and 
cleansing, than for ease and comfort. Complaining in 
trouble is the work of a man, but repenting is the 
work of a christian. 

The reasons of this point are these three : 
1. If a judgment should be removed, while sin re- 
mains, it is not removed in mercy, but in anger : for 
many ^mcs God gives over punishing in displeasure., 
as a man throws away the rod when his scholar is 

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incorrigible. ** Why should you be smitten any 
more ? you will revolt more and more," Isa. i. 5. If 
men be settled on their lees, and will not be reclaimed, 
there cannot a heavier punishment light upon them, 
than to be without punishment ; to be left to themselves 
and the fury of their own wills, speedily to work out 
their own perdition, that their own pleasures may 
become their plagues, and the liberty of their own 
lusts their sorest bondage. God may take away in 
wrath that which he sent in anger, Hos. xiii. 1 1. as on 
the other side he may punish sin then when he for- 
giveth it, and may visit iniquity with rods then when 
he will ** not utterly take away his loving kindness 
from a people,** Psal. xcix. 8. Ixxxix. 32, 33. 

2. If a judgment be removed, so long as sin re- 
mains, either the same or a worse is likely to succeed, 
for God will overcome when he judgeth. Pharaoh's 
stubbonmess did but increase Ms plagues. God 
will not endure that the pride of man should outvie 
his justice. If we do not take Christ's warning to go 
and sin no more, we have great cause to fear his 
inference, that ** a worse thing will come upon us/' 
John V. 14. If we do yet exalt ourselves, God will 
yet plead with us. If we will walk contrary unto him, 
he threateneth to do the like unto us, and to punish 
us seven times more for our sins. If we do not turn 
unto him that smiteth us, then his anger in smiting 
shall not be turned away, but his hand shall be stretched 
out still. God can brmg clouds after rain, distresses 
in Ireland after distractions in Scotland, and distrac- 
tions in England after distresses in Ireland, mischief 
upon mischief, and counsel against counsel, M anassch 
against Ephraim, and Ephraim against Manasseh, to 
vex, and weary out a sinful people, till they pine away 
in their calamities. 

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ON HOSBA XIV.— VBRIE 1, 2. 23 

3. Sin being removed, though the afflictions should 
not be removed, yet they are sanctified and turned 
into good. Repentance, like the philosopher's stone, 
can turn iron into gold, can make golden afflictions : 
BO the trial of our &ith, that is, our affliction, is said to 
be •* more precious than gold," 1 Pet. i. 7. Whereas 
sin remaining is like copperas which will turn wine or 
milk into ink. It converts the blessing ot' God into 
the provisions of lusts. It cankers learning with 
pride, and wit with profaneness, and wealth with 
luxury ; like leaven which turns a very pas90ver 
into pollution, 1 Cor. v. 8. As the pearl, which 
is an ornament to the woman who wears it, is a 
disease to the fish which breeds it; as the same 
perfiune which refreshes a dove, is mortal to a 
vulture ; as the same pillar and cloud was light to 
Israel, but dark to Egypt ; the same deep was a path 
to Israel, but a grave to Egypt : so the same blessings 
which by grace are converted into comforts, by 
sin are abused into dishonourable services. Sweet 
powders can make leather an ornament, when the 
Baaies (corrupt matter) of a plague-sore will render a 
robe infectious. As it was said of Naaman, he was a 
great man, an honourable man, a mighty man of war, 
I tit he was a leper: so whatever other ornaments a 
man hath, sin stains them with the foulest **buf* 
that can be brought to deprave the fairest endowments ; 
— a learned man, a wealthy man, a wise man, an 
honourable man, but a wicked man. This makes all 
those other good things tributary unto Satan. 

And therefore, as the cold and silver of the Canaan- 
ites was to pass through the fire before it could be 
used by Israel, so all other blessings bestowed on 
men must pass through the spirit of judgment and 
bunting, through the purifying waters of repentance. 

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before tney can bring honour to the author, or comfort 
to the enioyer of them. When Christ overcometh 
Satan, " he taketh from him all his armour, and 
divideth the spoils," Luke xi. 22. How doth he 
divide the spoils ? surely he maketh use of that wit, 
wealth, power, learning, wisdom, interests, which 
Satan used against Christ's kingdom, as instruments 
and ornaments unto the gospel. As when a magazine 
in war is taken, the general makes use of those arms 
which were provided against him for his own service. 
And as sin doth thus corrupt blessings, so on the 
other side repentance doth sweeten judgments, and can 
turn afflictions into matter of comfort. Repentance, 
though it should not remove a judgment, yet can feed 
upon it ; and fetch meat out of the eater, and out of 
the strong sweetness. 

There are two evils in afflictions — their thorns in 
the flesh, as they are matter of pain, and their snare to 
the conscience, as they are matter of temptation ; as 
there are two things in a chain or fetter — ^the heaviness 
whereby it loads, and the hardness whereby it galls. 
Now a prisoner, though he cannot make his chain 
lighter than it is, yet by lining it with wool or other 
soft things, he can prevent the galling ; so repentance, 
though it take not away the pain of affliction from the 
flesh, yet by meekening and humbling the soul, with 
silence and quietness to bear the incQgnation of the 
Lord, and accept of the punishment of sin, it removelh 
the temptation and malignity of it from the conscience. 
And thus as Protagoras by his natural dexterity 
ordered the burden which he was to bear with more 
ease and advantage, so piety by spiritual prudence 
makes judgments more easy to be borne ; and the 
light yoke of Christ, as floats in a deep water, bears 
up the spirits of men from sinking, and lighteneth every 

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ON HOSE A XIV. — VERSE 1, 2. 25 

Other burden. And therefore as he in Plutarch said 
of the Scythians, that though they had no music nor 
vines amongst them, yet they had gods ; so whatever 
other things may be wanting to a people, yet if God 
be their God, they are not destitute of any happiness. 
Yea, as those roses usually smell sweetest which grow 
nearest unto stinking weeds, so the comforts of God's 
Spirit are strongest when a man is otherwise perplexed 
with the greater difficulties. It was promised unto 
Josiah that he should die in peace, 2 Chron. xxxiv. 28. 
and. yet we find that he was slain in war, chap. xxxv. 24. 
His weeping and humiliation altered the very nature 
of trouble, and made war to be peace unto him* 

Now for the use and application of this point — It 
serves, first to instruct us how to deprecate calamities 
when God shaketh his rod over u?. There is nothing 
in all the world that God is angry with but sin : for 
all other things are his own works, in the goodness of 
which he rested with singular complacency and delight. 
Sin is that against which God's arrows are directed ; 
and as the arrow sticks in the butt unto which the mark 
is fastened, so the judgments which are shot at sin, 
must needs light upon us unto whom sin cleaveth. 
The way then to divert the arrow is to remove the 
mark. It is true, God doth sometimes bring aflflic- 
tions without respect to the provocations of sin, upon 
his best servants. As if a man should shape out of a 
mass of gold some excellent vessel, though the gold 
be ever so pure, yet it must pass through the fire and 
under the hammer. But it is certain too, tliat no 
affliction comes in anger but with respect to sin; 
and the anger of God is the bitterest thing in any 

Now for this turning from sin, there is no way but 
to get sin removed. Take the bark from a ti-ee, and 

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the sap can never iind way to tlie boughs : sin is the 
vehicle which carries shame and sorrow to the soul ; 
take away that, and a judgment hath no commission. 
You may find an error in it« if you be not the same 
men that you were when it issued forth, for God BlM)ot8 
no arrows to hurt the body of iiis Son. It is.true, Job 
complains that " God's arrows did stick in him," 
Job vi. 4. But these were not for destruction, but 
for trial ; as men shoot bullets against armour of proof, 
not to hurt it, but to praise it. Job in this case was 
brought forth, not as a malefactor to suffer, but as a 
champion to triumph. Let a man take what course 
he can to keep off God*s judgments, and liide himself 
in the closest protection that human power or policy 
can contrive, so long as he keeps his sin with him, 
God*s arrows will get through at one joint or other. 
A naked man with innocence, is better armed than 
Goliath in brass or iron. 

We are apt in our distresses to howl and repine, to 
gnaw our tongues, and tear our flesh in the anguish 
of our sufferings. Like the silly hart, which runs 
mourning and bleeding, but never thinks of getting 
out the fatal dart which sticks in liis side. We look 
upward to see whether help will drop into our mouths ; 
and we look downward, to see whether human suc- 
cours will avail us. But we look not inward, to 6nd 
out the plague of our own hearts, that we may be rid 
of that. And till tliis be done, sin doth as naturally 
draw and suck judgments to it, as the loadstone doih 
iron, or turpentine fire. Wlience comes it that our 
distractions remain unremoved ? Certainly our leaks 
are not stopped, our sins are not thrown away, we 
labour at the pump to get the water out, but we do 
not take care to cure the passage at wliich it enters 
in ; we are old bottles still, and God will not put liew 

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wine into old bottles. If men would spend their 
murmurings and reproaches rather upon their sins 
than upon their physicians^ the work would be sooner 
done. When the temple of God was to be rebuilt, 
and a public restitution of the face of tilings unto 
glory and splendour was in agitation, the prophets 
call upon God's people in special then to repent. Im- 
penitence puts obstructions to God's mercy, and to all 
noble enterpises. So long as our lives are as bad 
as before, how can we expect that our condition should 
be better ? in that case mercies themselves become no 
mercies: as in the case of repentance, judgments 
would be no judgments. If we turn from our evil 
ways, God hath engaged himself by a solemn promise, 
that " he will do us no harm/* Jar. xxv. 6. Other- 
wise, to busy ourselves in outward ceremonies of re- 
pentance, bodily fasting, and verbal praying, is indeed 
but to flatter God, and, if we could, to deceive him. 
And God will answer such men not according to the 
prayer of their lips, but according to the ^* idol of their 
hearts," Ezek. xiv. 4, 5. 

FiHTther : this teaches us how to pray against sin. 
It must be against all, and in all respects. In the 
Hebrew text there is an unusual kind of transposition 
of the words. The word '* all " is first. Metliinks it 
doth intimate an intentness of the church upon that 
point, to have, if it were possible, all taken away at 
the very first. If there be one leak in a ship, one gap 
in a wall, one gate in a city unprovided for, it is 
enough to sink a ship, to drown a country, to betray 
a city. One little boy thrust in at a window, can 
unlock the door for all the rest of the thieves. It was 
but one Jonah that raised a tempest, but one Achan 
that troubled a camp, and one sin generally unrepented 
of, were enough to undo a kingdom. Do not say it 

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is a little one, and my soul shall live. Even the 
philosopher tells us, that sometimes the very smallest 
error proves most dangerous. How little soever it 
be in its own nature, it becomes heinous by the allow- 
ance. It is as much treason for a private man to coin 
silver as gold pieces, because the royal authority is as 
much violated by the one as the other. 

This then we must first and principally remember — 
to set ourselves against all sin. In confession none 
to be dissembled, in supplication none to be excepted, 
in conversion none to be reserved : never give over 
so long as any is left. O Lord, yet it works, yet it 
lives, yet it tempts, yet it pains me. Sin hath not 
done accusing me, let not thy mercy have done 
forgiving sin. Sin hath not done rebelling in me, 
let not thy grace have done subduing sin. When 
men kill snakes or vipers, so long as they see them 
pant, or offer to thrust out a sting, they strike them 
still. Sin, like the thief on the cross, when it is fast 
nailed and kept from its old tyranny, yet will, as much 
as it can, revile, and spit out venom upon Christ. O 
therefore give it not over, break the legs of it, crucify it 
clean through, till it be quite dead. None can pray 
or turn unto God in truth, or hope to be delivered 
from judgments in mercy, so long as he holds fest any 
kiiown sin. Can any man look to receive benefit 
by the blood of Christ, who hugs the villain that shed 
it ? is it not treason knowingly to harbour and enter- 
tain a traitor ? Whosoever loves and holds fast sin, 
lies unto God in every prayer that he makes. 

This serves to prove and humble us for our hypo- 
crisy and halvings with God, in our conversions from 
sin, and confessions of it; we are willing to pray for 
the pardon of them aZ/, we would have none hurt us, 
but when it comes to parting, and taking all away. 

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ON HOSE A XIV. — VERSE I, 2. 29 

this we cannot away with. Some are fat, delicate, 
golden sins, we would fain spare these, as Saul did 
Agag, and hide them, as Achan did his wedge. 
Herod hears John gladly in many things, but if he 
restrain him of his Herodias, he must expect to be 
himself restrained. Agrippa will be almost a christian, 
but " altogether" may chance bring a chain with it ! 
Jehu will down with Baal and his priests, but he 
knows not how to part with his calves, lest he venture 
his kingdom. Policy is ever entering caveats against 
piety. Thus men huckster, and stand upon abate- 
ments with Christ in the bargain of salvation, not 
considering that the purchase of heaven is like the 
buying of the Sybil's prophecy, the longer we stand 
off, the dearer it will cost us every day ; the more 
tears, the harder repentance, the deeper sorrow, the 
stronger cries. These men know not the price of a 
soul, nor the worth of a Saviour. 

O if Christ should have served us so in dying for 
sin, as many of us do serve him in turning from sin, 
what a condition had our souls been in ! If he had 
died for some sins, and not for others ; if he had been 
unwilling to save us to the uttermost, as we are to 
serve him to the uttermost ; if he should have stopt 
before he came to consummatum est* and left any 
one drop of that bitter cup for us to drink after him, 
would it not have ** caused our belly to swell, and our 
thigh to rot," Numb. v. 21. and made us for ever inca^ 
pable of any other mercy than only a less damnation ? 

Well, beloved, Christ expecteth, that as he died 
for all sin, so we should die to all : he will be counted 
worthy of all acceptation, before he will bestow him- 
self ; he will not suffer his blood and his mercy to 

* It is finishedi John xix. 30. 

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mingle with sin, or to be a protection to it: he 
cannot endure mingling of the holy seed with the 
profane : swearing by God, and swearing by Malcham : 
Samaritan services, to be for the Lord in one thing, 
and for the world and flesh in another ; one step straight, 
and another crooked ; one speech Ashdod, and another 
Canaan — ^to let our conversation be yea and nay, a 
mongrel service ; in this I will do as you bid me, but 
in that I will not; like the Jews that would buy 
Christ's blood with money, but would not take the 
money into the treasury ; they were fearful to defile 
their chests, but not to defile their consciences. This 
Christ cannot away with. It is dangerous to say 
with the pharisee. This I am not, and that I am not ; 
or with the young man, Tliis and that I have done, and 
in the mean time to have one thing lacking, to have 
one door locked up still to keep Christ and salvation 
from us : whosoever keeps a covetous heart for the 
world, or a sensual heart for the flesh, or a proud 
heart for the devil, is unworthy of heaven by his own 
election, and would not go in thither if the door were 
wide open : he would not find there any fuel for these 
his lusts, not any Nabal, or Cozbi, or Diotrephes to 
converse withal. And surely, he that doth any one 
wickedness with allowance, in God's construction, is 
habitually guilty of all, James ii. 10. Luke xvi. 10. 
£zek. xviii. 10. 13. 

Therefore, in this case, as Samuel said to Jesse, Are 
here all thy children? If any be left, we will not sit 
down till he come. So we must conceive in our con- 
fessions and renunciations of sin, that Christ asketh 
us. Are here all ? If any be reserved, I will not take 
-possession till that be cast out : there must not aa 
hoof be left in Egypt, if God is to be served. God's 
law, as well as man's, disallows inmates in the same 

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house ; he will not endure a divided heart, he is heir 
of all things, there lies no writ of partition in his 
inheritance, his title is so good that he will never 
yield to a composition ; he will have all the heart or 

Again : we should therefore be exhorted (in time of 
trouble especially) to set about this great work, to fall 
foul upon our sins, to complain against them to God^ 
as the Achans that trouble Israel, as the corrupters 
and betrayers of our peace, to set ourselves in God's 
sight, and not to dare to lie unto his Holy Spirit, by 
falseness or hypocrisy ; as if we could reserve any one 
sin unmortified which he should not know of. But 
being in his sight to whom all things are naked and 
open, to deal in all sincerity, and to hate sin even as 
he hates it. 

There are five notable duties which these words, 
" Take away all iniquity," lead us unto. 

The first is, sense of sin, as of a heavy burden, as 
the prophet David calls it, Psal. xxxviii. 4. Such 
sense our Saviour requires in true penitents, " Come 
unto me all ye that are weary and heavy laden," Matt. 
xi. 28. To conceive them heavier than a millstone^ 
Luke xvii. 2. than the weight of a mountain, Luke 
xxiii. 30. Oh what apprehension had St. Petex^s con- 
verts of sin, when they felt the nails wherewith they 
had crucified Christ sticking fast in their own hearts, 
and piercing their spirits with torment and horror ! 
Acts ii. 37. Oh what apprehensions had the poor jailer 
of his sins, when he came as a prisoner befo^ his 
own prisoners, springing in with monstrous amazement, 
and consternation of spirit, beseeching them to tell 
liim " what he should do !" Acts xvi. 23. 30. 

Consider it in its nature ; a universal bruise and 
sickness, like those diseases which physicians say are 

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a corruption of the whole substance, from head to foot, 
Isa. L 5» 6. And who doth not feel such a universal 
languor to be a heavy burden ? for a man that must 
needs labour, to have weights hung at his hands ; that 
must needs walk, to have clogs fastened to his feet» 
how can he avoid crying out with the apostle, " O 
wretched man that I am, who shall detiver me T Rom. 
vil 24. 

Consider it in the curse that belongs unto it. A 
roll written within and without with curses. 

Look mdward^ and behold a curse in the creature ; 
vanity, emptiness, vexation, disappointments, every 
creature armed with a sting, to revenge its Maker*» 

Look inwitrdf and behold a curse in the conscience ; 
accusing, witnessing,* condemning, haling to the 
tribunal of vengeance ; first defiling with the allowance, 
and after terrifying with the remembrance, of sin. 

Look upward^ and behold a curse in the heavens ; 
the wrath of God revealed from thence upon all un- 

Look downward^ and behold a curse in the earth ; 
death ready to put a period to all the pleasure* of 
sin, and like a trap-door to let down into hell, where 
nothing of sin will remain, but the worm and the fire. 

Look into the scriptures, and see the curse there 
described : an everlasting banishment from the glory of 
God's presence: an everlasting destruction by the 
glory of his power, 3 Thes. i. 9. The Lord showing 
the jealousy of his justice, the unsearchableness of liis 
severity, the inconceivableness of his strength, the 
bottomless guilt and malignity of sin, in the everlast- 
ing destruction of ungodly men, and in the everlasting 
preserving of them to feel that destruction. '• Who 
knoweth the power of thy anger V saith Moses ; ** even 

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according to thy fear, so is thy wrath," Psal. xc. 11. 
It is impossible for the most trembling consciences,, 
or the most jealous fears of a guilty heart, to look, 
beyond the wrath of God, or to conceive more of it 
than indeed it is. As in peace of conscience the 
mercy of God is revealed unto believers, from faith to 
faith, so in anguish of conscience the wrath of God 
is revealed, from fear to fear. 

: A timorous man can fancy vast and terrible fears, 
fire, sword, tempests, wrecks, furnaces, scalding lead,, 
boiling pitch, running bell-metal; and being kept 
alive in all these to feel their torment. But these 
come far short of the wrath of God ; for there are 
bounds set to the hurting power of a creature, the fire 
can bum, but it cannot drown ; the serpent can stingy 
but he cannot tear in pieces. Likewise the fears of 
the heart are bounded within those narrow apprehen-i 
sions which itself can frame of the hurts which may 
be done. But the wrath of God proceeds from an 
infinite justice, and is executed by an omnipotent and 
unbounded power, comprising all the terror of all 
other creatures (as the sun doth all other light) emi- 
nently and excessively in it. It bums, and drowns, 
and tears, and stings, and bruises, and consumes, and 
can make nature feel much more than reason is able 
to comprehend. 

O if we could lay these things seriously to heart, 
(and yet these are but low expressions, of that which 
cannot be expressed, and coroeth as short of the tmth 
itself, as the picture of the sun in a tablet, doth of the 
greatness and brightness of it in its own orb,) should 
we not find it necessary to cry out, Take away all 
iniquity ! this sickness out of my soul, this sword, this 
nail, this poisoned arrow out of my heart; this 
dagger of Ehud out of my body, this millstone, this 

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Hoantain from off my back, these stings and terrors, 
these flames and furies out of my conscience ? Lord* 
my wounds stink, my lips quiver, my knees tremble, 
I am feeble, and broken, and roar, and languish ; thy 
wrath lies hard upon me, and thy waves go over my 

O if we had but a view of sin as it is in its native 
foulness, and did feel but a touch of that fury which God 
is ready to pour out upon it, this would stam all the 
pride of man, and sour all the pleasures of sin, and 
make a man as fearful to meddle with it, as a guilty 
woman with the bitter water which caused the curse. 
Most true was that which Lutlier spake in this point. 
If a man could perfectly see his own evils, the siffht 
thereof would be a perfect hell unto him : and Uds 
God will bring wicked men unto, '* Reprove them, 
and set their sins in order before them, Psal. 1. 21. 
Make them take a view of their own hearts and lives, 
fuller of sins than the firmament of stars, or a fur- 
nace of sparks. O consider this, you that forget me, 
saith the Lord, lest I tear you in pieces, and there be 
none to deliver you. 

The second duty is confession ; for he that cries to 
have sin taken away, acknowledges that it lies upon 
)iim ; a full confession, not of many, but of all sins, 
either actually committed, or habitually comprised in 
our body of sin. As he in the comedian, said, that he 
had mvited two guests to dinner, Philocrates and 
Philocrates, a single man, but a double eater : so in 
examination of ourselves we shall every one find sins 
enough in himself to denominate him a double and a 
treble sinner. A free confession, not as Pharaoh's, 
extorted upon the rack ; nor as that of Judas, squeezed 
out with anguish and horror; but ingenuous and 
penitent, arising from the purpose of a pious heart. 

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that comes like water out of a spring, with a vokm- 
tary freeness ; not like water out of a still, which is 
forced with fire. 

The third duty is weariness and detestation of all 
sin ; for we call not to have a thing removed till we be 
weary of it. Thus we are taught in the scriptures to 
be ashamed, and confowided ; to loathe, and abhor, 
to judge and condemn ourselves ; to throw sin away 
as a detestable thing, though it be a golden or silver sin. 
A ^litusd judgment looks on all sin as filthy and 
s^king ; shows a man to himself as a vessel full of 
dung and scum, apd makes him out of quiet till he be 
thoroughly purged. For hatred is against the whole 
kind of that which we hate. 

The fourth duty is an acknowledgment of our own 
impotence to remove sin from ourselves. We have 
no more power than a slave in chains has to get out 
of his bcmdage till another ransom him, than a dead 
body in a grave till Christ raise it. Our iniquity 
takes hc^d on us, and keeps us down, that we cannot 
hearken or be subject to the will of God. If sin were 
not removed by a greater strength than our own, it 
would most certainly sink us into hell. 

The last duty is an imploring of God's mercy and 
grace, that what we cannot do ourselves, he would be 
pleased to do for us. In works of art it is hard to 
build, but easy to destroy. But in works of sin, 
though our weakness is able to commit them, yet none 
but God's power is able to demolish them. None but 
Christ is strong enough to overcome the strong man. 
His person only hath strength enough to bear the 
curse of sm : his sacrifice only merit enough to make 
expiation for sin. His grace only virtue enough to 
remove the pollution of sin. Though we should take 
nitre and much soap, our sin would be marked still; 

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but he Cometh with refiner's fire and with fuller's soap, 
and can wash out all. It was his business of coming 
into the world, to destroy the works of the devil. 

Now the things which we pray for in this petition 
are these three : 

First. For remission, that God would take away the 
condemnation of sin from us, by not imputing the 
guilt thereof unto us, but would cause it to pass over 
on Christ, on whom he hath laid the iniquity . of his 
people. Such an expression the Holy Ghost useth, 
The Lord hath caused thy sin to pass over from thee, 
2 Sam. xii. 13. that is, to Christ, which being ob- 
tained, all other judgments are in fact removed too, 
80 far as they import proper and vindictive punish- 

Second. For sanctification, that the virtue of 
Christ's death, and the grace of his Spirit may subdue 
the power of sin, and cleanse and strengthen our con- 
sciences against the commands of it, and temptations 
unto it. 

Third. For continued renovation, that as in sancti- 
fication begun we have power acainst all kinds of sin^ 
so, by the continual supplies of the Holy Spirit, we may 
have further power against all degrees and remainders 
of sin. That Christ would pursue our sin unto death, 
as our sin did him, and not give over mortifying it, 
till his blood be revenged of it to the uttermost, and 
our souls delivered from it to the uttermost. 

I shall conclude the first part of the petition with a 
short word of exhortation. Those things which God 
worketh in us, and bestoweth upon us by his grace, he 
also requireth of us by his command. Sometimes he 
promiseth to turn us, sometimes he commandeth us to 
turn to him ; sometimes he biddeth us put away sin« and 

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sometiines he promiseth to take it away from us. In 
the one, showing^us what is our duty, and in the other, 
where is our help. And as this latter consideration 
calls upon our faith to pray ; so the former upon our 
ohedience to work. I shall therefore (right honour- 
able*) humbly offer a double exhortation unto all of 

First That every one of you would seriously endea- 
vour to take away all iniquity from his own person. 
And unto this there lieth upon you a double obliga- 
tion ; one with relation to the safety of your own 
souls, for whatever other honour, wealth, wisdom, 
learning, interest, a man hath besides, if sin have the 
predominancy, they are but Satan's magazine, and 
that man his servant, to employ them against God that 
gave them : and the more mercies any man hath been 
trusted withal, the heavier judgment will be poured out 
upon the breach of that trust. Better- be a wooden 
vessel to hold wine, than a silver vessel to hold 
filth ; better be a beggar with the treasure of God's 
grace, than a prince with the load of a man's ow4. 

But there is a further tie upon you, with relation 
unto the success of that honourable employment 
whereunto you are called. God will be sanctified in 
all those that draw near unto him, as well in civil as in 
sacred administrations. It is very hard for a person 
in whom sin rules, to be constantly faithful to any 
public and honourable service ; for " grace only esta- 
blisbeth the heart," Heb. xiii. 9. Ahithophel, a man of 
great wisdom, falls from David : Joab, a man of great 
valour, &lls from Solomon. And admit he be faitliful, 
yet the sin of his heart sends out a prohibition to the 
wisdom of his head, and the labour of his hand : he 

* lliis termon was preached before the House of Commons. 

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that will be a fit vessel for Ids master^s use^ must first 
of all purge himself, 2 Tim. ii. 21. as we first cleanse 
a vessel before we use it. When Joshua was to 
negotiate a public reformation, and to administer a 
public service, his filthy garment must be taken from 
him, and he must be clothed wltli change of raiment, 
Zech. iii. 4. 7. Let every one of you make his public 
service one argument more than he had before, for his 
necessary reformation, and let the piety of your lives 
bear witness to the integrity of your honourable un- 

Second. As you must take away sin from your- 
selves, so make it your principal work to take away 
iniquity out of the land : liberty, property, privileges 
are sacred and precious things, not to be in the least 
manner betrayed ; yea, in some sense we may look 
upon them as a fence and mound unto religion itself. 
Arbitrary government would quickly be tampering in 
sacred things, because corruption in the church is 
marvellously subservient and advantageous to corrup- 
tion in the state. But the most orient pearl of this 
kingdom is our religion, and the bitterest enemies unto 
that, are our sins. These are the snuffs that dim our 
candlestick, and threaten the removal of it ; these the 
leaven that defile our passovers, and urge God to 
pass away and depart from us ; these the obstructions 
to the happiness of the kingdom. Think seriously 
what ways may be most effectual to purge this leaven 
out of the land. The principal sacrificing knife 
which kills and mortifies sin, is tne word of God, and 
the knowledge of it. It would have been a great un- 
happiness to the commonwealth of learning, if Caligula 
had succeeded in his endeavour to deprive the world 
of the writings of Homer, Virgil, and Livy. But oh 
what an Egyptian calamity is it, to have in this sun 

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ON HO&EA XIV. VERSE 1, 2. 39 

shine of the gospel, thousands of persons and families 
(as I doubt not but upon inquiry it would appear) 
without the writings of the prophets and apostles : — 
a christian soldier mthout his sword, a christian builder 
without his rule and square, a christian calling without 
the instruments and balances of the sanctuary belong- 
ing to it ! O therefore that every parish had an endow* 
ment fit for a learned, laborious, and worthy pastor, 
and pastors worthy of such endowments ! that provi- 
sion were made that every family might have a bible 
in it, and (if by law it might possibly be procured) the 
exercises of religion therewithal ! this would be the 
surest magazine to secure the happiness of a king- 
dom : that all reproachful titles, which the devil useUi 
as scarecrows, and whiflers* to keep back compan]f 
from pressing in upon Christ's kingdom, were by law 
proscribed 1 that scandalous sins were by the awfuU 
ness and severity of discipline more blasted and 
brought to shame ! that the Lord's house were more 
frequented, and his day more sanctified, and his ordi^ 
nances more reverenced, and his ministers, who 
teach the good knowledge of the Lord, more encou- 
raged than ever heretofore ! — ^in one word, that all the 
several fountains of the commonwealth were settled In 
a sound and flourishing constitution ! that in every 
place we might see piety the elm to every other vine, 
the supporter to every other profession. Learning 
adom^ with piety, and law administered with piety, 
and counsels managed with piety, and trade regulated 
with piety, and the plough followed with piety. That 
when ministers fight s^ainst sin, with tlie sword of 
God's word, you who are the nobhss and gentry of the 
land, would second them, and frown upon it too ; a 

* Things that are moved by the wind to iiighten birds from 
the com. 


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frown' of yours may sometimes do as much service to 
Christ as a sermon, of ours. And he cannot but take 
it very unkindly from you, if you will not bestow your 
countenance on him, who bestowed his blood on you. 
Tliat you would let the strictness of your lives, and 
the piety of your examples put wickedness out of 
countenance, and make it appear (as indeed it is) a 
base and a sordid thing. 

If we would thus seriously set ourselves against the 
sins of the land, no power, no malice, no policies should 
stand between us and God's mercies ; religion would 
flourish, and peace would settle, and trade would 
revive, and the hearts of men would be reunited, and 
the church be as a city compacted, and this nation 
would continue to be as it hath been, like the garden 
of Eden, a mirror of prosperity and happiness to 
other people ; and God would prevent us in the second 
part of our petition, with the blessing of goodness : as 
soon as ever iniquity were removed, he would do us 
good, which is the second thing here directed to pray 
tor, " Receive us graciously." 

In the original it is, Take good, to wit, to bestow 
upon us ; so taking is sometimes used for giving. 
He received gifts for men, so in the psalm ; he gave 
gifts to men, so in the apostle : and it is not impro- 
bable, that the prophet here secretly leads us to 
Christ the Mediator, who first receiveth gifts from 
his Father, and then poureth them forth upon his 
church. Acts ii. 33. 

The meaning, then, is, Lord, when thou hast par* 
doned, weakened, mortified sin, go on with thy mercy^ 
and, being in Christ graciously reconciled unto us, 
give further evidence of thy fatherly affection, by 
bestowing portions upon us. They shall not be cast 
away upon unthankful persons ; we will render tha 

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ON HOSEA XIV. VERSE 1, 2. , 4l 

calves of our lips : they shall not he hestowed upon 
those that need them not, or that know where else to 
provide themselves. It is true, we have gone to the 
Assyrian, we have taken our horses instead of our 
prayers, and gone about to find out good ; we have 
been so foolish as to think that tlie idols which have 
been beholden to our hands for any shape that is in 
them, could be instead of hands, and of Grod imto us, 
to help us in our need ; but now we know that men of 
high degree are but a lie, that horses are but a vanity, 
that an idol is nothing, and therefore can give nothing. 
That power belongeth unto thee, none else can do it ; 
that mercy belongeth unto thee, none else will do it; 
therefore since in thee only the fatherless find mercy, 
be thou pleased to do us good. 

We wiD consider the words, 1. Absolutely, as a 
sin^e prayer by themselves ; 2. Relatively, in their 
connexion, and with respect to the scope ci the plaoel 

1 . From the former consideration we observe, that all 
the good we have is from God ; he only must be sought 
unto for it ; we have none in ourselves ; " I know that 
in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good," Rom. 
vii. 18. we can neither think, nor speak, nor do it. 

And, missing it in ourselves, it is all in vain to seek 
for it in things below ourselves. They can provide 
for our back and belly, and yet not that neither with- 
out God : the roots out of which the fruits of die earth 
do grow, are above in heaven, the genealogy of com 
and wine is resolved into God, Hos. ii. 22. But if 
you go to your lands, or houses, or treasuries for 
medidne, for a sick soul, or a guilty conscience, they 
will all return an ignoramus* to tliat inquiry ; salvation 
doth not grow in the furrows of the field, neither are 
* GoDfesB their inability to answer. 

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there in the eartli to be fuuud any mines or liarvests of 
grace or comfort. 

In God alone is the fountain of life ; he that only is 
good, he only doth good ; when we have wearied 
ourselves with having recourse to second causes, here 
at last, like the wandering dove, we must arrive for 
rest : " Many will say. Who will show us any good ? do 
thou lift up the light of thy countenance upon us/' 
Psal. iy. 6. From Him alone comes every good gift ; 
Jam. i. 17. whether temporal, it is his blessing that 
maketh the creature able to comfort us ; (the woman 
touched the hem of Christ's garment, but the virtue 
went not out of the garment, but out of Christ, Luke 
viii. 44.) or whether spiritual, sanctified i^ulties, sanc- 
tified habits, sanctified motions, glorious relations, in 
predestination, adoption, and cluristian liberty, ex- 
cellent gifts, heavenly comforts, all and only from 
him, and that without change and alteration. He 
doth not do good one while, and evil another, but 

goodness is his proper and native operation ; he is not 
le author of sin, that entered by the devil ; he is not 
the author of death, that entered by sin ; but our de- 
struction is of ourselves. And therefore, though the 
prophet say. Is there any evil in the city which the 
Lord hath not done ? yet he doth it not but only as it 
is good in order to his glory : for it is just with God, 
that they who run from the order of his c(»nmands, 
should fall under the order of his providence, and 
doing willingly what he forbids, should unwillingly 
suffer what he threateneth. 

In one word, God is the author of all good, by his 
grace working it ; the permitter of all evil, by his 
patience enduring it ; the orderer and disposer of both, 
by his mercy rewarding the one,by his justice revenging 

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ON HOS£A XIV.----VEItSE 1, 2. 48 

the other, and by Ids wisdom directing both to the 
ends of his eternal glory. 

This serves to discover the free and sole working 
of grace in our first conversion, and the continued 
working of grace in our further sanctification ; what« 
soever is good in us habitually, as grace inhering, or 
actually, as grace working, is from him alone as the 
author of it. For though it be certain, that when we 
will and do, we ourselves are agents, yet it is still under 
and from him. By grace we are that we are, we do 
what we do in God's service : vessels have no wine, 
bags have no money in them, but what the merchant 
puttethin: the bowls of the candlesticks had no oil 
but that which dropped from the olive branches. 

Other things which seek no higher perfection than 
is to be found within the compass of their own nature, 
may, by the guidance and activity of the same nature, 
attain thereunto ; but man aspiring to a divine happi- 
ness, can never attain thereunto but by a diviite 
strength : impossible it is for anjr man to enjoy God 
without God. 

The truth of this point shows it in five gradations. 

(1.) By grace, our minds are enlightened to know 
and believe Him : for spiritual things are spiritually 

(2.) By grace, our hearts are inclined to love and 
obey Him, for spiritual things are spiritually approved. 
He only by his aknighty and ineffable operation 
worketh them in us. 

(3.) By grace, our lives are enabled to work what 
our hearts do love, without which, though we should 
will, yet we cannot perform, any more than the Imife 
which hath a good edge is able actually to cut, till 
moved by the hand. 

(4.) By grace, our good works are carried on unto 

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perfection. Adam wanting the grace of perseverance, 
fell from innocence itself. It is not sufficient for us 
that God prevent* and excite us to will, that he 
co-operate and assist us to work, except he continually 
follow and supply us with a residue of the Spirit, to 
perfect and finish what we set about All our works 
are begun, continued, and ended in him. 

(5.) By grace our perseverance is crowned : for 
our best works could not endure the trial of justice, if 
God should enter into Judgment with us. Grace 
enables us to work, and grace rewards us for working ; 
grace begins, and grace finishes both our &ith and 
salvation. The work of holiness is nothing but 
grace, and the reward of holiness is nothing but 
grace for grace. 

Again : this teaches us how to know good from 
evil in ourselves. What we look on as good, we must 
see how we have derived it from God ; the more re- 
course we have had unto God by prayer, and Mth, 
and study of his will, in the procurement of it, the 
more goodness we shall find in it. A thing done may 
be good in the substance of tlie work, and yet evil in 
the manner of doing it ; as the substance of a vessel 
may be silver, but Sie use sordid. Jehu's zeal was 
rewarded as an act of justice, and it was punished too 
as an act of policy, for the perverse end. A thing 
which I see in the night may shine, and that shining 
proceed fi-om nothing but rottenness. We must not 
measure ourselves by the matter of things done : for 
there may be a bad design in a good work. Doeg 
prays, and Herod hears, and hypocrites fiist, and 
pharisees preach; but when we would know the 
goodness of our works, look to the fountain, whether 
they proceed from the Father of lights by the Spirit of 
* Go beforo. 

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love, and the grace of Christ, from humble, penitent, 
filial, heavenly dispositions ; nothing will carry the 
Boul unto God, but that which cometh from him. 
Our communion with the Father and the Son is the 
trial of all our goodness. 

Further: this should exceedingly abase us in our 
own eyes, and stain all the pride, and cast down all the 
plumes of flesh and blood, when we seriously consider 
that in us, as now degenerated from our original, there 
is no good to be found : our wine is become water, 
and our silver dross. As our Saviour saith of the devil, 
when he lies he speaks of his own, so when we do 
evil, we work of our own, and, as the apostle speaks, 
" according unto man,*' 1 Cor. iii. 3. Lusts are our 
own, our very members to that body of sin which the 
apostle calleth " the old man," with which it is as im- 
possible to do any good, as for a toad to spit cordials. 

Men are apt to glory of their good hearts and in- 
tentions, only because they cannot search them^ 
Jer. xvii. 9. and being carnal themselves, to en- 
tertain none but carnal notions of God's service. But 
if they knew the purity and jealousy of God, and their 
own impotence to answer so holy a will, they would 
lay their hands upon their mouths, and with Job, 
abhor themselves ; and with Isaiah, bewail the unclean- 
ness of their lips ; and with Moses, fear and quake, as 
not being able to endure the tilings that are commanded ; 
and with Joshua acknowledge, that they cannot serve 
God because he is holy. Tliey would then remember 
that the law of God is a law of fire, Deut. xxxiii. 2. 
and the tribunal of God, a tribunal of fire, Ezek. i. 27. 
that the pleadings of God with sinners, are in flames of 
fire, Isa. Ixvi. 1 5, 16. that the trial of all our works shall 
be by fire, 1 Cor. iii. 13, that the God before whom 
we must appear, is a con^ming fire, Heb. xii. 29 

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Go now and bring thy straw and stubble, thy drowsy 
and sluggish devotion, thy fickle and flattering repent- 
ance, thy formal and demure services into the fire, to 
the law to measure them, to the Judge to censure 
them ; nay, now carry them to thine own conscience, 
and tell me whether that will not pass the Father's 
verdict upon them ; tliat which is fair in thine eye, is 
filthy in God's. 

Lastly: this serves for exhortation unto these par- 
ticular duties. 

[1.1 Unto patience and meekness under any evil 
that God may bring upon us, and that not barely, 
because he doth us good in otiier things, which was 
Job's argument, " Shall we receive good from the 
Lord, and not evil V* Job ii. 10. But further, be- 
cause the very evils that come upon us, are often- 
times by him intended for good, as Joseph told 
his brethren, Gen. 1. 20. We are not angry with 
the physician when he lances, diets, and restrains 
us of our will : he denies us our will, that we may- 
have our will ; a sick man is many times most faith- 
fully served, when he is crossed. I lop my trees, 
bruise my grapes, grind my com, to fit it to the ends 
whereunto it tendeth. God's end is merciful when his 
hand is heavy, as John's roll was " sweet in the 
mouth, but bitter in the belly," Rev. x. 9. so troubles 
may be bitter to the palate, but profitable to the con- 
science ; like hot spices that bite the tongue, but com- 
fort the stomach. 

And as it dictates patience in suffering evil, so in 
doing our duties, though we suffer contempt and re- 
proaches for it. If we were to receive our rewards 
from men, their firowns might discourage us ; but 
when we have done Godte will, God himself will be 
our reward, and make his promises a comfort unto us. 

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ON HOSE A XIV. — VERSE 1, 2. 47 

Moaea and Aaroi^, though their whole employments 
were for the good of Israel, were yet repaid with 
murmuring and discontent, and the people, like chil- 
dren, repined at the food which their prayers obtained 
for them, yet nothing dismayed them from their duty. 
The woman of Canaan prays on when she is denied, 
and Jacob holds with his hands when his thigh is 
lamed ; our first care must be to be in our way, to be 
doing our duties, and then, though (as Solomon 
speaks) we should meet a lion in our way, we must not 
be dismayed ; for angels are stronger than lions, and 
he hath '* given his angels charge over us, to bear us 
in our ways," Psal. xci. 11. Yea, " whilst we are 
with him, he himself is with us," 2 Chron. xv. 2. so 
that the way of the Lord is the surest and safest walk 
that any man can have, '* The way of the Lord is 
strength to the upright,*' Prov. x. 29. 

[2.] Unto humility. If thou art a vessel of 
gold, and thy brother but of wood, be not high- 
minded, it is God that maketh thee to differ ; the more 
bounty God shows, the more humility he requires. 
Those mines that are richest are deepest, those stars 
that are highest seem smallest, the goodliest buildings 
liave the lowest foundations ; ^e more God honoureth 
men, the more they should humble themselves ; the 
more the fruit, the lower tlie branch on which it 
grows ; pride is ever the companion of emptiness. 
Oh how full was the apostle, yet how low was his 
language of himself — '* least of saints, last of apostles, 
chief of sinners, no sufficiency to think, no abilities to 
do;" all that he is, he is by grace: thus humility 
teaches us in our operation, to draw strength from 
God, not from ourselves; in our graces to ascribe 
their goodness to God, and their weakness to our- 

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[3.] . Unto dependence and continual recourse to 
God, as the Fountain of all good, to keep an open and 
unobstructed passage between him and our soul. Say 
not, I have light enough in my house, I may now shut 
up my windows, for light within hath dependence upon 
immediate supplies from the sun without, and so bath 
grace upon continual suppHes from the Sun of righ- 
teousness. God teacheth even the husbandman to 
Slough and thresh, Isa. xxviii. 26. In these things hia 
irection is to be implored: meddle not then with 
great and high af&irs without recourse unto him. 
His name is Counsellor, and his testimonies are 
counsellors ; let them be the rule and square of all 
your debates. It is recorded for the honour of Scipio, 
that he went first to the capitol, and then to the 
senate. But you have more noble examples. David 
is put to flight, he flies and prays. Hezekiah is at a 
stand in all his counsels, he sends to tlie prophet and 
prays ; Jehoshaphat is in great distress, and knows not 
what in the world to do, but he prays ; Nehemiah is 
sore afraid, and hath a petition to make to the king, 
but first he makes one to God, and prays ; whenever 
we are in great need, and tliere is no strength at all 
in us, all the world cannot furnish you with such 
another help as prayer, and recourse to God, — it 
hath delivered even graves of their dead. Therefore 
let me beseech you, whenever you meet with such 
difficulties as put you to a stand, that you know not 
what to advise or resolve upon, go to your closets, 
prostrate yourselves at His throne, whose honour it is 
to be seen in the mount, beg counsel of him in whom 
are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 
Let it appear that you seek his face to direct you, and 
his glory as the supreme end and design of all your 
consultations ; and then try whether he is not a present 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSE 1,2. 49 

help in trouble, and whether he will not magnify the 
wisdom of his counsel in the perplexity of yours. 

[4.] Unto fidelity, in the use of any good which 
God bestows upon us : for God gives not talents to 
men, barely to enrich men, but to employ them ; 
therefore as the vessel hath one passage to let the 
wine into itself, and another to pour it out into the 
flagon, so we should not only fill ourselves by depen- 
dence upon God, but should supply others by Ipve and 
service unto our brethren. 

Eight honourable, this nation hath put into your 
hands all that is outwardly dear unto them, their per- 
sons, posterities, liberties, estates. In these sad and 
woful distractions, they look upon you as binders, 
and healers, and slanders in the gap, and repairers of 
waste places ; God hath called you unto an high and 
a great trust ; and men call upon you, like the man of 
Macedonia, in St. Paul's vision, Acts xvi. 2. Come 
and help us. Now in this great strait stir up the 
graces of God in you, call together all that is 
within you to call upon his name, improve the 
uttermost of your interests in him for the state of 
his church, manage every one of his gifts to the 
closing of those miserable breaches which threaten 
an inundation of calamity upon us all ; wisdom, and 
learning, and piety, and prudence, are healing things. 
Bemember (and O that God would put it into the 
hearts of this whole kingdom, from the throne to the 
plough, to remember) jthe fate of a divided kingdom 
from the mouth of truth itself. O that we would all 
remember that misunderstandings, and jealousies, and 
divisions of heart are a high evidence of God's dis- 
pleasure; and that through the wrath of the Lord of 
hosts, a land is darkened, and as it were iniiEituated, 
wlien '* Manasseh is against Ephraim, and Ephraim 

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against Manasseh, and every man eateth the flesh of 
his own arm," Isa. ix. 9. 21. O let us all remember 
what it cost Shechem and Abimelech, what it cost 
Benjamin and the other tribes, even the loss of three- 
score and five thousand men: remember Babylon 
will clap their hands; no such time for Shishak 
the Egyptian to trouble Jerusalem, as when Israel 
is divided, 2 Chron. xii. 2. Let it never be said 
of God's own people, that they are fiilkn into the 
curse of Midianites, and Amorites, and Edomites, and 
Philistines, to help forward the destruction of one 
another. O that God would give this whole nation 
hearts to consider these things; that he would put a 
spuit of peace and resolved unity into the minds of 
this whole people, to be true to their own happiness ; 
and by how much the greater are the subtleties of 
men to divide them, to be so much the more firmly 
united in prayers to God, and in concord between 
themselves, that they may not expose their persons, 
estates, posterity, and (which is dearest of all) their 
religion, to the crafty and bloody advantages of the 
enemies of the protestant churches, who in human 
view could have no way to overthrow them, but by 
their own dissensions. 

2. I shall now conclude all with a very few words 
of the next point, which is drawn from the scope 
and connexion of the prayer suggested to the judgment 
threatened. It is this : 

When temporal judgments ase felt or feared, God's 
people should pray for spiritual mercies. Human 
sorrows cannot overcome where the joy of the Lord 
is our strength. Thus the Lord seems to have taught 
his apostle he was under some pressing discomfort, 
the messenger of Satan sent to buffet Mm ; he prays 
for particular deHverance, and God answers him, not 

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ON HOSEA XIV. V£R6E 1, 2. 51 

accoxding to his wish, but to his real advantage, im- 
plying a direction unto all such prayers, *' My grace 
is sufficient for thee/' 2 Cor. xii. 9. When thou 
feelest a thorn in thy flesh, pray for grace in thy 
heart, the buffeting of Satan cannot hurt where the 
grace of God doth suffice ; so he directeth in time of 
plague and famine, to pray, and to seek his face, 
2 Chron. vii. 14, to look more after his favour than 
GUI own ease ; to be more solicitous for the recover- 
ing of his love, than for the removing of his rod. This 
is a true character of a filial disposition. In the way 
of thy judgments, even in that way wherein wicked 
men fling Uiee off, and give thee over, and quarrel 
with thee, and repine against thee, even in the way of 
thy judgments do we wait for thee, and the desire of 
our soul is more to thy name, than to our own deliver- 
ance, Isa. xxvi. 8. True disciples follow Christ more 
for his doctrine than his loaves, and are willing to 
choose rather affliction than iniquity. 

The grace and fiivour of God is life, Psal. xxx. 5. 
^' better than life,'' Ixiii. 3. and therefore must needs 
be the most sovereign antidote to preserve, and to 
bear up the soul above all other discomforts ; whereas 
if he he angry, no other helps are able to relieve us. 
Brass and iron can fence me against a bullet, or 
against a sword, but if I were to be cast into a fur- 
nace of fire, it would help to torment me ; if into a 
pit of water, it would help to sink me. Now our God 
IS a consuming fire, and his breath a stream of brim- 
stone. Human remedies can never cure the wounds 
which God makes : where he is the smiter, he must 
be the healer too, Hos. vi. 1. All the candles in a 
country are not able to make day there, till the sun 
come : and all the contents of the world are not able to 
make comfiiit to the soul, till the Sun of righteousness 

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arise, with healing in his wings. In a mine, if a 
damp come, it is in vain to trust to your lights, they 
will bum blue, and dim, and at last vanish ; you must 
make haste to be drawn upward if you will be safe. 
When God sharpeneth an affliction with his displea- 
sure, it is vain to trust to worldly succours, your 
desires and affections must be on things above, if you 
will be relieved. There is no remedy, no refuge from 
God's anger, but in God's grace. Bloodletting is a 
cure of bleeding, and a bum is a cure against a bum, 
and mnning into God is the way to escape him, as to 
close and get in with him who would strike you, doth 
avoid the blow. In a tempest at sea, it is very dan- 
gerous to strike to the shore, the safest way is to have 
sea room, and to keep in the main still ; there is no 
landing against any tempest of God's judgments at 
any shore of worldly or carnal policies, but the way is 
to keep with him still ; if he be with us in the ship, . 
the winds and the sea will at last be rebuked. 

This then should serve to humble us for our canial 
prayers in times of judgments ; such as the hungry 
raven, or the dry or gaping earth makes, when we 
assemble ourselves for corn and wine, for peace and 
safety, and are in the mean time careless whether God 
receive us graciously or not. God much complains of 
it, when he slew Israel, the rack made him roar, 
the rod made him flatter, but all was to be rid of 
affliction : it was the prayer of nature for ease, not of 
the spirit for grace, for their " heart was not right," 
Psal. Ixxviii. 34. 37. The like he complains of after 
the captivity ; they fasted and prayed in the fifth 
month, wherein the city and temple had been burned, 
and in the seventh month, wherein Gedaliah had been 
slain, and the remnant carried captive, but they did 
it not out of sincerity toward God, but out of policy 

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ON HOSBA XIV.— VERSE 1 ,2. 53 

for themselves ; and this he proves hy their behaviour 
after their return. If you had indeed sought me, you 
would have remembered the words of the piopheto, 
when Jerusalem was inhabited before, and being re- 
turned, would now have put them to pracdoe. But 
Jerusalem inhabited after the captivity, is too much like 
Jerusalem inhabited before the captivity ; so that from 
hence it appears, that all their weeping and separating 
was not for jnious, but politic reasons, Zech. vii. 5, 6* 
And there is nothing under heaven more hateful, or 
more reproachful unto God, than to make religion 
serve turns, to have piety lackey and dance attend- 
ance, and be a drudge and groom to private ends, 
to make it a cloak to policy, a varnish to rotten wood, 
silver dross to a broken potsherd. 

O then, when we weep and separate ourselves, let 
us not then think to mock God witii empty ceremonies 
of repentance ; let us not assemble ourselves only to 
flatter away the rod from our back, and to get peace 
and security to our own persons, and then let the 
&vour of God, the power of his grace, the comforts of 
his Spirit be unregarded as be^re; as if we fasted 
and prayed only for our becks and bellies, not for our 
consciences or conversations ; for be we well assured, 
he who doth not ask the things which he ought, shall 
not obtain the things which he asks ; such a prayer 
begs nothing but a denial. 

We have now on many fasts prayed for making up our 
breaches. These prayers we have not found yet re- 
turn like Noah's dove, with an olive branch, a gracious 
answer unto us again. What is the reason ? Where 
is the obstruction? Is not he a God that heareth 
prayers ? Is it not his title ? Doth he not glory in 
It ? C!ertalnly mercies stop not at God, but at us. 
We are not straitened in him, but in our own bowels— 

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our own affections. If there come but a little light 
into a room, the defect is not in the sun, but in the 
narrowness of the window ; if a vessel fill but slowly, 
the fault is not any emptiness in the fountain, but 
the smallness of the pipe. If mercies ripen slowly, 
or stop at any time in the way, it is not because they 
are unwilling to come to us, but because we are unfit 
to enjoy them. Our prayers, doubtless, in many 
of us, have not been words taken from him, but from 
our own carnal dictates. 

We would fein have things well in our country, 
but have we hitherto looked after our consciences ? 
7he distractions without us, have they driven us to 
consider the distempers within, or to desire the things 
above ? The unsettledness of p«ace in the kingdom, 
hath it awakened us to secure our peace with God ? 
We would foin have better times, but have we yet 
laboured for better hearts ? We would fain liave a 
right understanding prevail in public matters, but 
have we yet seriously set about it, to have a more 
clear and sweet communion between us and our 
God ? We long to see more good laws, but are we 
yet come to the care of good lives ? Every one cries 
out, ** Who will show us any good ?" but how few 
think on the light of God's countenance. 

Hence, hence, beloved, is the miscarriage of all 
our prayers. If we would seek God's kingdom, we 
are promised other things by way of overplus and 
accession, as he that buyeth a treasury of jewels 
hath the cabinet into the bargain. But when we 
place our kingdom in outward comforts, and let our 
daily bread shut all the other five petitions out of 
our prayers, no wonder if the promises of this life, 
which are annexed unto godliness, do not answer 
those prayers wherein godliness is neglected. It 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSE 1, 2. 55 

were preposterous ta begin the building of a house 
at the roof, and not at the foundation : piety is the 
foundation of prosperity ; if you would have your 
children like plants and like polished stones, your 
garners full, your cattle plenteous, no complaining 
in your streets ; if you would have the king happy, 
and the church happy, and the state happy, and peace 
and prosperity flourish again ; let our chief prayer 
be, " Lord make us a happy people, by being our 
God/' Give us thyself, thy grace, thy favour, give 
us renewed hearts and reformed lives; let not our 
sins confute, and outcry, and belie our prayers, and 
pray them back again without an answer. And when 
we seek thee and thy Christ above all, we know tliat 
with him thou wilt freely give us all other things. 
The spiritual good things which we beg, will either 
remove, or shelter and defend us from the outward 
evil things which we suflFer. 

Again: this serves for an instruction unto us^ 
touching a sanctified use of God's judgments or threat^ 
enings. When we learn obedience, as Christ did, by 
the things which we suffer, Heb. v. 8. when we are 
chastened and taught together, Psal. xciv. 12. when 
sufferings quicken spiritual desires, and tlie more 
troubles we find in our way, the more love we have to 
our country ; when we can say, *' all this is come 
upon us, and yet we have not forgotten thee," PsaL 
xliv. 17, 18. when we can serve God as well in plough- 
ing and breaking the clods, as in treading out the 
com, Hoseax. 11. when, with Jonah, we can delight 
in him, even in the whale's belly, and suffer not our 
love of him to be quenched with all the waters of the 
sea ; when we can truly say to him, Lord, love me* 
and then do what thou wilt unto me, — let me feel thy 
sod, rather thirn forfeit thine affection ; when we can 

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Idok through the anger of his chastiflements unto the 
beauty of his commands ; and to the sweetness of his 
loving countenance, as by a rainbow we see the beaup- 
tiful image of the sun's light in the midst of dark and 
waterish clouds ; when by how much the flesh is the 
fuller of pain, by so much prayers are fuller of spirit ; 
by how much the heavier are our earthly sufferings, 
by so much the stronger are our heavenly desires . 
when God threateneth punishments, and we pray for 
grace, this is a sanctified use of God's judgments. 
And this we should all be exhorted unto in the times 
of distraction, to make it the principal argument of 
our prayers, and study of our lives, to obtain spiritual 
good things; and the less comfort we find in the 
world, to be the more importunate for the comforts 
of Goid, that by them we may encourage ourselves, 
as David did in his calamity at Zikiag, 1 Sam. xxx. 6. 
When the citv Shechem was beaten down to the 
ground, then the men and women fled to the strong 
tower, and idxutthat upon them, Judg. ix. 51. ** The 
name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous 
fly to it, and are safe," Prov. xviii. 10. 

Herein we shall more honour God when we set 
him up in our hearts as our fear and treasure, and 
mourn more towards him, than for the miseries we 
feel, and pant more after him, than all the outward 
contentment which we want. 

Herein we sliall more exercise repentance, for it is 
worklly sorrow which droopeth under the pain oi the 
flesh, but godly sorrow is most of all affected with 
the anger of God. 

Herein we shall more prevail with God ; the more 
heavenly the matters of your prayers are, the more 
prevalent they must needs be with a henvenly Fa^ 
Iher; we have five fqpiritual petitions unto one fof 

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bread; the more suitable our prayers are to God's 
wiU, the more easy access they will have to his ear. 
The covenant of grace . turns precepts into promises, 
and the Spirit of grace turns precepts and promises 
into prayers. It is not God's will that we should 
live without afflictions, but our sanctification is God's 
will, 1 Thess. iv. 3. The more prayers proceed from 
love, the more acceptable to the God of love : now 
prayer against judgments proceeds from fear; but 
prayer for ^race and favour proceeds from love. 

Lastly: hereby we shall more benefit ourselves; 
God's grace is much better than our own ease ; it 
gives us meekness to submit ; it gives us strength to 
bear ; it gives us wisdom to benefit by our afflictions. 

God's favour is much better than our own case, and 
is a recompense for sufferings beyond all their evils. 
A man would be contented to be loaded with gold, 
so he might have it for the bearing ; though it be 
heavy, yet it is precious; and God's favour turns 
affliction into gold. '* If he gives quietness, nothing 
can give trouble," Job xxxiv. 29. and if he keep back 
his grace and favour, nothing can give peace ; neither 
wealth nor honours, nor pleasures, nor crowns, nor 
all the world, with the fulness, or rather the empti- 
ness thereof, can do us any good at all. Any thing 
which will consist with the reign of lust, with the 
guilt of sin, with the curse of the law, with the wrath 
of God, with horrors of conscience, and with the 
damnation of hell, is too base to be called the good of 
man. " To do judgment, to love mercy, and walk 
humbly with God, this is the good of man, Micah vi. 
8. to fear God, to keep his commandments, this is 
the whole end and happiness of man, Eccl. xii. 13. 

O then get remission and removal of sin, get 
this good of man, the oil of grace in your lamps, 

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peace of God in your hearts, the streams of the rivers 
of God in your consciences ; and then, though the 
earth be moved, and the mountains shake, and the 
waters roar, whatever distractions, whatever desola- 
tions happen, while ruin overtakes the careless, thou 
shalt find a chamber in God's providence, a refuge 
in his promises, a pavilion in the secret of his presence 
to protect and to comfort thee above them alL 

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ARB OUR GODS, &C. — ^HOSBA ZIV. 2, 3, 

In the whole context, we have hefore observed two 
general parts : Israel's prayer, and Israel's promise. 
The prayer we have considered, and now proceed unto 
the promise, wherein are two things to be considered. 
The covenant itself ; and then the ground upon which 
they make it, God's mercy to the fatherless. The 
covenant, wherein they promise two tilings. 
- First. Thanks^ving for God's hearing and answer 
ing their prayers. 

Second. A special care for amendment of their lives. 

'* We will render the calves of our lips." The apostle 
out of the septuagint reads it, ** the fruit of our lips," 
Ueb. xiii, 15. It is the use of the scripture to de- 
scribe spiritual duties by expressions drawn from 
ceremonies and usages under the law, as repentance is 
called washing, Isa. i. 16. and prayer, incense, Psa. 
cxli. 2. Rev. v. 8. and the righteousness of saints, 
fine linen, (being an allusion to the garments of the 
priests,) Rev. xix. 8. and Christ an altar, whereby 
both our persons and services are sanctified and ac- 
cepted, Ileb. xiii. 10. Rom. xiL 1. 1 Pet. ii. 5. 
Isa. Ivi. 7. Thus here, the spiritual sacrifices of 
praise are called calves, to show the end of all 

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sacrifices, which were ordained for the stirring up of 
spiritual affections, and praises unto God, and also to 
intimate the vanity of ceremonial without real services. 
The heast on the altar was but a carnal, but the faith 
of the heart and the confession of the mouth was a 
reasonable sacrifice. No point more insisted on in 
the prophets than this, Isa. i. xv. Mich. vi. 6 — 8. 
Amos iv. 4. v. 5. Psa. 1. 13. 15. Ixix. 30, 31. &c. 
They had idolatrously dishonoured God with their 
calves of Dan and Bethel, and they had carnally and 
superstitiously placed all worship and hoh'ness in the 
calves of the altar : but now they resolve to worsliip 
God neither politically, after human inventions, nor 
carelessly, with mere outward ceremonies, but spiri- 
tually, and irom inward affections : for the lips are 
moved by the heart. 

Now thanksgiving is further called the calves, or 
sacrifices of the lips, to intimate, that after all God's 
rich mercies upon us in pardoning our sins, and in 
multiplying his grace and spiritual comforts upon us, 
we, like beggars, have nothing to return but the bare 
acknowledgments and praises of our lips ; words for 
wonders, and those words too his own gifts ; we can- 
not render them to him, before we have received them 
from him, Psa. cxvi. 12, 13. Mat. xii. 34. 1 Chron. 
xxix. 16. 

" Asshur shall not save us.*' Unto the general con- 
fession of sin intimated in those words, " 'Kike away all 
iniquity,*' here is added a particular detestation of their 
special sins, with a covenant to forsake them ; lest 
waxing wanton with prdon and grace, they should 
relapse into them agam. The sum is to confess the 
vanity of carnal confidence, betaking itself to the aid 
of men, to the strength of horses, to the superstition 
of idols for safety and deliverance. All which they 

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are now at last by their experience, and by their re- 
pentance, tauglit to abandon, as things which indeed 
cannot, and therefore they are resolved shall not save 

By the Assyrian is here intimated all human succour 
procured by sinful correspondence, by a synecdoche,* 
of the part for the whole. But he is particularly 
mentioned, 1. Because he was the chief monarch of 
the world, to show, that the greatest worldly succours 
are vain, when they are relied upon without, or against 
God ; 2. Because the scripture takes notice o&n of 
it as their particular sin, the sending unto, relying 
upon, and paying tribute unto him for aid and assist- 
ance, Hos. V. 13. vii. 11, 12. 2 Kings, xv. 19, 20 ; 
3. Because, instead of helping, he did greatly afflict 
them. Their flying to him was like a bird's flying 
into a snare, or a fish' s avoiding the pole wherewith 
the water is troubled by swimming into the net^ 
2 Kings XV. 29. Hos. xiii. 4. 

By horses we are to understand the military pre- 
parations and provisions which they made for them** 
selves, both at nome, and from Egypt^ 2 Chron.i. 16, 
Isa. xxxL 1. 

• By the works of their hands are meant their idols^ 
which were beholden to their hands for any shape or 
beauty that was in them. The same hands which 
formed them, were afterwards lifted up in worship 
unto them, Isa. xliv* 10. 17. xlvi. 6 — 8. Jer.x. 3. 15. 
vi. 20. Acts xix. 26* Time was when we said, *' These 
are our gods which brought us up out of Egypt," 
Exod. xxxii. 4. 1 Kings xii. 28. but now we will not 
say so any more ; for how can a man be the maker of 
his Maker. 

•* For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.*' This is 
* A figure by which part is taken for the whole. 

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(he ground of their petition for pardon and graee, and 
of their promise of praises and amendment; God's 
mercy in hearing the prayers, and in enabling the 
performances of his people. It is a metaphor drawn 
from orphans in their minority, who are, 1. Destitute 
of wisdom and abilities to help themselves ; 2. Ex- 
posed to violence and injuries; 3. Committed for 
that reason to the care of tutors and guardians to 
govern and protect them. The church here acknow- 
kdgeth herself an outcast, destitute of all wisdom 
and strength within, of all succour and support from 
without, and therefore betaketh herself solely unto 
God's tuition, whose mercy can and usel^ to help 
when all other help fails. 

This is the last link of that golden chain of repent- 
ance made up of these gradations : 1. A humble 
address unto God ; 2. A penitent confession of sin ; 
3. An earnest petition against it ; 4. An imploring of 
grace and favour ; 5. Thanksgiving for such great 
benefits; 6. A covenant of new obedience; 7. A 
confidence and quiet repose in God. 
. Let us now consider what usefiil observations the 
words thus opened will afford unto us. And one main 
point may be collected from the general scope of the * 
place. We see after they have petitioned for pardon 
and grace, they then stipulate and undertake to perform 
duties of thankfulness and obedience. 

True penitents in their conversion horn sin, and 
humiliation for it, do not only pray unto God for 
mercy, but do futther covenant to express the fruits 
of those mercies in a thank^l and obedient conversa- 
tion. When first we are admitted into t^e family and 
household of God, we enter into a covenant There* 
fore circumcision, whereby the children of the * Jews 
were first sealed and separated for God, is called his 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 2, 8. 68 

^covenant, Gen. xvii. 13. because therein God did 
covenant to own them, and t}iey did in the figiire 
covenant to mortify lu8t» and to serve him, without 
which they were in his sight but uncircumcised stiU. 
** I will punish,'* saith the Lord, " all those that are 
circumcised in uncircumcision,'' (so the original runs, 
Jer. ix. 25.) and the nations there mentioned with 
Judah, who are said to be uncircumcised, did yet use 
circumcision as the learned have observed, but being 
out of covenant with God, it is accounted to tliem »» 
uncircumcision, and so was that of the Jews too when 
they did break covenant with God, Bom. ii. 28, 29. 
Acts vii. 51. And as the Gentiles being converted 
are called Jews, and said to ** be bom in Sion,** GaL 
vi. 16. 1 Cor. xii. 2. Psa. Ixxxvii. 4, 5. so the Jews 
living impenitently are called Gentiles, Canaanites, 
Amorites, Hittites, Ethiopians, Sodomites; Ezek, 
xvi. 3. Hos. xii. 7. Amos ix. 7* Isa. i. 10. In like 
manner baptism among christians is called by the 
apostle the answer, or covenant of keeping a good 
conscience towards God, 1 Pet iii. 21. the word 
signifieth a question or interrogation, which some 
would have to be the conscience's making interpelki^ 
' tion for itself to God ; others to be as much as the 
examining of a man's self, like that before the Lord's 
Supper, 1 Cor. xi. 28. I rather take it as an allusion 
to the manner of John's baptism, wherdn the people 
firet confessed, and consequently renounced sin, and 
being taken into Christ's service, or into tliat kingdom 
of God which was at hand, did inquire after the work 
which they were to do. And we find the same word 
in Luke iii. 10. which the apostle Peter useth, ** The 
people asked him, saying. What shall we do V whereby 
is intimated an engaging of tliemselvcs by a solemn 
promise ^uod undertaking, to the pnictice of that 

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repentance unto which John baptized them. Whence 
arose the grave form of the ancient churches, where- 
in questions were proposed to the person baptized 
toudiing his faith and repentance, renouncing the 
world, the flesh, and the devil, with a solemn answer 
and stipulation obliging thereunto. Which custom 
seems to have been derived from the practice used in 
the apostle's time, wherein profession offaith^unfeigned 
and sincere repentance was made before baptism, 
Actsii. 38. viii. 37. xvi. 3. xix. 4. This is the first 
dedicating of ourselves, and entering into a covenant 
with God, which we may call in the prophet's ex- 
pression, the subscribing, or giving man's name to 
God, Isa. xliv. 5. 

Now the covenant between us and God being 
perpetual, a covenant of salt, Jer. xxxii. 40. 2 Chron. 
xiii. 5. as we are to begin it in our baptism, so we 
are to continue it to our life's end, and upon all fit 
occasions to repeat and renew it for our further 
quickening and remembrancing unto duties. So did 
David, Psa. cxix. 106. so Jacob, Gen. xxviii. 20 — 22. 
so Asa, and the people in his time, 2 Chron. xv. 12. 15. 
so Hezekiah, 2 Chron. xxix. 10. xxx. 5. 23. so 
Josiah, 2 Chron. xxxiv. 31, 32. so Ezra, and Nehe- 
miah, Ezra x. 3. Nehem. ix. 38. 

The reasons enforcing this duty may be drawn from 
several considerations. 

I. From God in Christ, where two strong ob- 
ligations occur, namely, the consideration of his 
dealing with us, and of our relation unto him. For 
the former, he is pleased not only to enter into 
covenant with us, but to bind himself to the per- 
formance of what he promiseth. Though whatever 
he bestows upon us is all matter of mere and 
most free grace, wherein he is no debtor to us at 

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ON HOttSA XIV.-^VBRSES 2, 3. 65 

all, yet He is pleased' to ^nd himself unto acts of 
grace. Men love to have ail their works of favour 
free, and to reserve to themselves a power of altera- 
tion or revocation, as themselves shall please. But 
God is pleased that his gifts should take upon them in 
8ome sense the condition of debts, and although he can 
owe nothing to the creature, Rom. xi. 85. Job xxii. 3. 
XXXV. 7, 8. yet he is contented to be a debtor to his 
own promise ; and having at first in mercy made it, his 
truth is after engaged to the performance of it, Mic, 
vii. 2f). 

Again, his word is established in heaven, with him 
there is no variableness, nor shadow of change, his 
promises are not yea and nay, but in Christ, Amen, 
2 Cor. 1 20. If he speak a thing, ** k shall not fail,** 
Josh. xxi. 45. He spake, and the world was made | 
his word alone is a foundation and bottom to the 
being of all his creatures ; and yet, notwithstanding 
the immutable certainty of his promises when they 
are first uttered, for our sakes he is pleased to bind 
himself by fiirther ties. Free mercy secured by a 
covenant, and a firm covenant secured by an oath, 
Deut vii. 12. Luke i. 72, 73. Heb. vi. 17, 18. that 
we, who, like Gideon, are apt to call for sign upon 
sign, and to stagger and be disheartened, if we have 
not double security from God ; we whose doubting 
calls for promise upon promise, as our ignorance doth 
for precept upon precept, may by two immutable 
things, wherein it is impossible for God to lie, have 
strong consolation. Now if God, whose gifts are 
free, bind himself to bestow them by his promise ; if 
God, whose promises are sure, bind himself to perform 
them by his oath ; how much more are we bound to 
tie ourselves by covenant unto God, to do those 
things which are our dutv to do, unto die doing 

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whereof we have such infirin prniciples as are a mutable 
will, and an unstedfiist heart. 

For the latter, our relation unto him, we are his, 
not only hy a property founded in his sovereign 
power and dominion over us, as our Maker, Lord, 
and Saviour, Psa. c. 3. 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. but by a 
property growing out of our own voluntary consent, 
whereby we surrender, and yield, and give up our- 
selves unto God, Rom. vi. 19. 2 Cor. viii. 5. We arc 
not only his people, but his willing people, by the 
intervention of our own consent, Psa. ex. 3. \Ve 
give him out hand (as the expression is, 2 Chron. 
XXX. 8.) which is an allusion to the manner of cove- 
Dants or engagements, Prov. vi. 1 . 17, 1 8. Ezek. xviL ] 8. 
We offer up ourselves as a free oblation, Rom. xv. 16. 
and are thereupon called a ^* kind of first fruits^ 
Jam. i. 18. We are his, as the wife is her husband's, 
Hos. ii. 19. Ezek. xvi. 8. Now such an interest as 
this ever presupposeth a contract. As in ancient 
forms of stipulation there was asking and answejing ; 
as in contract of marriage the mutual consent is 
asked and given. Gen. xxiv. 58. so it is here between 
God and the soul, the covenant is mutual, Gen. xvii. 2. 
He promiseth mercy to be our exceeding great reward, 
and we promise obedience, to be his willing people, 
and usually according as is the proportion of strength 
in our faith to believe God's promises of mercy to us, 
such is also the proportion of care in our obedience 
to perform our promises of duty unto him» 

II. From ourselves. And here covenants are 
needful in two respects. 

1. In regard of the falseness, and deceitfulness of our 
corrupt hearts in all spiritual duties. The more cunning 
a sophister is to evade an argument, the more close and 
])rc88ing we frame it* The more vigilant a prisoner to 

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bN HOSEA XIV. — ^VERSES 2, 3. (57 

make an escape, the stronger guard we keep upon him. 
Our hearts are exceedingly apt to be false with Grod. 
One while they melt into promises and resolutions of 
obedience, as Pharaoh and Israel did, Psa. Ixxviii. 
34. 37. and presently forget, and harden again. Lot's 
wife goes out of Sodom for fear of the judgments, 
but quickly looks back again, out of love to the place, 
or some other curiosity and distemper of mind. Saul 
relents towards David, and quickly after persecutes 
him again, 1 Sam. xxiv. 17. 19. This is the true 
picture of man's heart, under a strong conviction, or 
in a pang of devotion, or in time either of sickness, or 
some pressing affliction, on the rack, in the furnace, 
under the r^, nothing then but vows of better 
obedience ; all which do oftentimes dry suddenly away 
like a morning dew, and wither away like Jonah's 
gourd. Therefore both to acknowledge, and prevent 
this miserable perfidiousness of such revolting hearts ; 
it is very needful to bind them unto God with renewed 
covenants, and since they are so apt with Jonah to 
run away and start aside, to neglect Nineveh, and to 
flee to Tarshish, necessary it is to find them out, and 
to bring them home, and as David did, Psal. Ivii. 7. 
to fix and fitsten them to their business, tliat they may 
not run any more. 

2. In regard of the natural sluggishness wliich is 
in us unto duty. We are apt to faint and be weary 
when we meet with any unexpected difficulties in 
God's service, to esteem the wilderness as bad as 
Egypt, to sit down, as Hagar did, and cry, to think 
that half way to heaven is far enough, and almost a 
christian progress enough, that baking on one side 
will make the cake good enough, that God will accept of 
bankrupt payment, a shilling in the pound, part of our 
hearts and duties for all. We must sometimes venture 

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to leap Ae hedge, for there is a lion in the way. Nonr 
to correct this torpor, this pusiUaiumity, and faint- 
heartedness in God 8 service, we must bind them on 
ourselves with renewed covenants, and put to the more 
strength because of the bluntness of the iron, Eccles. 
X. 10. A covenant doth, as it' were, twist the cords of 
the law, and double the precept upon the soul. When 
it is onlva precept, then God alone commands it; but 
when I have made it a promise, then I command it 
and bind it upon myself. The more feeble our hands 
and knees are, the more care we should have to bind 
and strengthen them, that we may lift them up 
speedily, and keep them straight, Heb. xii. 12, 13. 
and the way hereunto is to come to David's resolution, 
^* I liave purposed that my mouth sliall not transgress," 
Psa. xvii, 3. Empty wishings and wooldings will 
not keep weak faculties togetlier. Broken bones 
must have strong bands to close them fast again. A 
crasy piece of bailding must be cramped with iron 
bars to keep it from tottering. So if We would indeed 
cleave to the Lord, we must bring purposes of heart, 
and strong resolutions to enable us thereunto. Acts 
xi. 23. Cleaving will call for swearing, Deut. x. 20. 
As it should be our prayer, so also our purpose, to 
have hearts " united to fear God's name, Psa. 
IxxxvL 11. whence the phrases of preparing, fixing, 
confirming, establishing, rooting, grounding, and 
other like, so frequently occurring in t&e scripture, 
2 Chron. xxx. 19. 1 Chron. xxix. 16. £ph. iii. 17. 
Heb. xiii. 9. Jam. v. 8. 

, III. From our brethren ; that by a holy association 
and spiritual confederacy in heavenly resolutions, 
every man*s example may quicken his brother, and so 
duties be performed with more vigour and fervency, 
and return with the gi*eater blessmgs. If fire be in 

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a whole pile of wood, eVery stick will burn liie brighter ; 
the greenest wood that is will take fire in so general a 
flame. Men usually have more courage in the body 
of an army, where concurrent shoutings and en- 
couragements do as it were infuse mutual spirits into 
one another, than when they are alone by themselves. 
David rejoiced in but recounting the companies and 
armies of God*s people when they went up to Jerusalem 
in their solemn feasts, Psa. Ixxxiv. 7. And therefore 
most covenants in scripture were general and public, 
solemnly entered into oy a great body of people, as 
that of Asa, Josiah, and Nehemiah, the forwardness 
of every man whetting the face of his neighbour, 
Prov. xxvii. 17. 

IV. From the multitudes, strength, vigilance, maHce, 
assiduottff attempts of our spiritual enemies, which call 
upon us for tlie stronger and more united resolutions, 
for common adversaries usually gain more by our 
faintness and divisions, than by their own strength. 
Therefore soldiers use to take an oath of fidelity 
towards their country and service. And HannibaFs 
felher made him take a solemn oath to maintain 
perpetual hostility with Rome. Such an oath have 
all Christ's soldiers taken, and do at the Lord's 
supper, and in solemn humiliations, virtually renew 
the same, never to hold intelligence or correspondence 
with any of his enemies. 

The first thing in a christian man's armour men* 
tioned by the apostle, £ph. vi. 14. is the girdle, 
that which binds on all the other armour (for so we 
read of girding otTarmour, Judg. xviii. 11. 1 Kings 
XX. 11.) and that there is truth. Which we may 
understand either doctrinally, for stedfastness and 
stability of judgment in the doctrine of Christ, which 
we prc^ess, not being carried about with every wifid 

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of doctrine, but holding fast the form of sound wordft^ 
knowing whom we beUeve, and having certainty of 
the things wherein we have been instructed, £ph« 
iv. 14. 2 Tim. i. 12, 13. Luke 1. 4, or else morally 
and practically, for sted&stness of heart in the &ithful 
discharge of those promises which we have made unto 
God, (for so faithfulness is compared to a girdle, 
isa. xi. 5.) whereby we are preserved from shrinking 
and tergiversation, in times of trial, and in our spiritiuil 
warfare. And this faithfulness, the more it is in 
solemn covenants renewed, the stronger it must needa 
be, and the better able to bind all our other arm9 
upon us. Christ's enemies will enter into eovenants,» 
and combinations against him and his church, Psa* 
ii. 2. Ixiv. 5, 6. Ixxxiii. 5. 8. Acts xxiii. 12. Jer. xi. 9. 
And our own lusts within us, will many times draw 
from us oaths and obligations to the fulfilling of them, 
and make them chains of sin contrary to the nature 
of an oath, 1 Kings xix. 2. Mark vi. 23. How 
much more careful should we be to bind ourselves 
unto God, that our resolutions may be the stronger, 
and nu)re united against so many and confederate 


1. This point serveth for a just reproof of those 
who are so far from entering into covenant with God, 
that indeed they make covenants with Satan hin 
greatest enemy, and do in their conversations, as it 
were, abuse thode promises, and blot out that subscrip- 
tion, and tear off mat seal of solemn profession, which 
they had so often set unto the covenant of obedrenas. 
Such as those, in the prophet's time, who were 
" at an agreement with hell and the grave," Isa. 
xxviii. 1 5. Every stubborn and presumptuous sinner 
holds a kind of spiritual compact with the devil. We 
read of the '* serpent and Ins seed," Gen. iii. 15. of 

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ON hoSea XIV.— verses 2, 3. 71 

the •* dragon and his soldiers," Rev. xii, 7. of some 
sinners heing of the devil, animated by his principleSt 
and actuated by his will and commands, I John iii. 8. 
2 Tim. ii. 26. 8atan tempting and sinners embracing 
and admitting the temptation upon the inducements 
suggested, hath in it the resemblance of a covenant 
or compact. There are mutual agreements and 
promises as between master and servant, one requiring 
work to be done, and the other expecting wages to 
be paid for the doing of it As in buying and 
selhng, one bargains to have a commodity, and the 
other to have a price valuable for it. Thus we read 
in some places of the service of sin, John viii. 34. 
Rom. vi. 16. 2 Pet.' ii. 19. and in others of the wages 
belonging unto that service, Heb. xi. 25. 2 Pet. ii, 15. 
Jude 11. and elsewhere of the covenant, bargain, 
and sale, for the mutual securing of the service, and 
of the wages, 1 Kings xxi. 25. Wicked men sell 
themselves, chaffer and grant away their time, and 
strength, and wit, and abilities, to be at the will and 
dispose of Satan, for such profits, pleasures, honours* 
advantages, as are laid in their way to allure them, 
and thus do, as it were, with cords bind themselves 
unto sin, Prov. v. 22. Ahab bought Naboth's vine* 
yard of the devil, and sold himself for the price in that 
purchase. Balaam against the light of his own con- 
science, and the many discoveries of God's dislike, 
never gives over his endeavours of cursing God's 
people till he had drawn them into a snare by the 
Midianidsh women, and all to this end, that he might 
at last overtake the wages of iniquity which he ran 
so greedily after. Numb. xxii. 15. 21, xxiii. 1. 14. 29. 
xxxi. 16. Mic. vi. 5. Rev. ii. 14. 2 Pet. ii. 15. 
Jezebel binds herself by an oath unto murder, 1 Kings 
xix. 2. Judas makes a- bargain for his master's 

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blood, and at once sells a soul, and a Saviour, for so 
base a price as thirty pieces of silver. Matt. xxvi. 15. 
Profane Esau makes merchandise of his birth- right, 
whereunto belonged the inheritance, or double portion, 
the princely power, and the office of priesthood, the 
blessings the excellency, and the government, Gen. 
xlix, 3. 2 Chron. xxix. 3. all which he parts with for 
one morsel of meat, Heb. xii. 16. being therein a type 
of all those profane wretches, who deride the ways of 
godliness, and promises of salvation, drowning tikem- 
selves in sensual delights, and esteeming heaven and 
hell, salvation and perdition but as the vain notions of 
melancholy men; having no other God but their 
belly, or their gain, Phil. iii. 19. 1 Tim. vi. 5. 

So much monstrous wickedness is there in the 
hearts of men, that they add spurs and whips unto a 
horse which of himself rusheth into the battle : when 
the tide of their own lusts, the stream and current of 
their own headstrong and impetuous aifections do 
carry them too swiftly before, yet they hoist up sail, 
and, as it were, spread open their hearts to the winds 
of temptation, precipitating and urging on their 
natural lusts by voluntary engagements, tying them- 
selves yet faster to misery than Adam by his fall had 
tied them, and making themselves not by nature only, 
but by compact the cliildren of wrath. One makes 
beforehand a bargain for drunkenness, another con- 
trives a meeting for uncleanness, a third enters into a 
combination for robbery and cozenage, a fourth 
makes an oath of revenge and malice ; like Ananias 
and Sapphira, they agree together to tempt the Spirit 
of the Lord,. Acts v. 9. Like Samson's foxes, they 
join together with firebrands to set the souls of one 
another on fire, as if they had not title enough to hell 
except they bargained for it anew, and bound them- 

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selves, as it were, by solemn obligations not to par| 
with it again. 

that every presumptuous sinner who thus sells 
himself to do wickedly, would seriously consider tho^ 
sad incumbrances that go along with this his purchase. 
Those who would have estates to continue in such of 
such a succession as themselves had preintended, have 
sometimes charged curses and execrations upon those 
who should alienate, or go about to alter the property 
and condition of them. Tliese, many times, are caus-r 
less curses, and do not come ; but if any man will 
needs make bargains with Satan, and be buying of tho 
pleasures of sin, he must needs Imow that there goes a 
curse from Heaven along viith such a purchase, which 
will make it at the last but a sweet bitter, like John's 
roll, which was sweet in the mouth but bitter in the 
belly ; like Claudius's mushroom, pleasant but poison ; 
that will blast all the pleasures of sin ; into such gold 
as ever brought destruction to the owners of it. It is 
said of Cn. Seius, that he had a goodly horse which 
had all the perfections that could be named for stature, 
feature, colour, strength, limbs, comeliness, belong- 
ing to a horse ; but withal tliis misery ever went along 
with him, that whosoever became owner of him was 
sure to die an unhappy death. This is the misery 
that always accompanies the bargain of sin. How 
pleasant, now profitable, how advantageous soever it 
may seem to be unto flesh and blood, it hath always 
calamity in the end, it ever expires in a miserable 
death* Honey is very sweet, but it turns into th« 
bitterest choler. The valley of Sodom was one of the 
most delightful places in the world, but is now become 
a dead and a standing lake. Let the life of a wicked 
man run on ever so fluently, it hath a Dead Sea at the 
dead end O then, when thou art making a 

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covenant with sin, say to thy soul as Boaz said to hn 
kinsman, '* At what time thou huyest it, thou must 
have Ruth the Moahitess with it," Ruth iv. 4, 5. If 
thou wilt have the pleasures, the rewards, the wages 
of iniquity, thou must aiso have the curse and damna* 
tion that is entailed upon it ; and let thy soul answet^ 
which he there doth. No I may not do it, I shaC 
nar and spoil a better inheritance. 

2. This may serve for an instruction unto us 
touching the duties of solemn himiiliation and repent- 
ance, which is the scope of the prophet'iB direction in 
this place. We must not think we have done enough 
when we have made general acknowled^nents and 
confessions of sin, and begged pardon and grace from 
God ; but we must withal furlJier bind ourselves fast 
unto God by engagements of new obedience, as holy 
men in the scripture have done in their more solemn 
addresses unto God, Neh. ix. 38. Psa. li. 12 — 15. 
for without amendment of life, prayers are but bowl- 
ings and abominations, Hos. vii. 14. Prov. xxviii. 9. 
No obedience, no audience. A beast will roar when 
he is beaten ; but men when God punisheth should 
not only cry, but covenant. 

Unto the performance whereof, that we may the 
better apply ourselves, let us a little consider the 
nature of a religious covenant. A covenant is a 
mutual stipulation, or a giving and i^eiving of faith 
between two parties, whereby they do vnanimoiisly 
agree in one inviolable sentence or resokition. Soeh 
a covenant there is between God and true believefs ; 
he giving himself as a reward unto them, and tkey 
giving themselves as servants unto him ; he willing 
and requiring the service, and they willing and <50n- 
senting to the reward ; he promising to be their God, 
and they to be his people, Heb. viii. 10. A notable 

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ON H08BA XIV.<^VSB8B8 S, 3. 75 

expression of which joint and mutual stipulation we 
have, Deut. xxvi. 17 — 19. " Thou hast avouched the 
Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, 
and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and 
his jodgmentSy and to hearken unto his voice : and 
the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his pecu- 
HaT people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou 
shovddest keep all his oommandmeBts ; and to make 
thee high above all nations which he hath made, in 
praise, and in name, and in honour ; and that thou 
mayest be an holy people imto the Lord thy God, as 
he hath spoken.** Where we have 'both the mutual 
expressions c^ intimate xelation one to another, and 
the mutual engagements unto unhrersai obedience on 
the one side, a»l unto high and prooioiis benefits on 
the other, growing out of that velaticHi. For because 
Cbd is mine, I am bound to sorve him ; and because I 
sm his, he hath bound himself to provide for me. 
We are not now to ecmsider that part dF the covenant 
which standeth in God's promise to be our God; 
which in general importetb thus much, God's giving 
himself in Christ unto tis, and together with Christ, 
all other good things. Benefits rekitive, in justifica- 
tion from sin, and adoption unto sons* Benefits 
habitual, a new nature by reg&a&mAenk, a new heart 
and life by sanctification, a quiet conscience by peace 
and comfort. Benefits temporal, in the promises of 
this life. Benefits eternal, in the glory ^ the next 
Hius is Christ made of God unto us, wisdcmi in our 
vocation, convening U» unto jmih in liiin ; righteous- 
ness in our justification, reconciling us unto Us Father ; 
sanctification in our conformity uiito him in grace, 
and redemption firom all evils or enemies which might 
faate us here, and unto all glory which may fill and 
everlastingly satisfy us hereafter, 1 CoV. i. 30. But 

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we are now to consider of the other part of the cove- 
nant which concerneih our engagement unto God, 
wherein we promise both ourselves, and our abilities 
unto him, to be his people, and to do him service. 

(1.) The material cause of this covenant is what- 
ever may be promised unto God ; and that consists of 
two things— our persons ahd our services. 

Our persons, " We are thine," Isa. Ixiii. 19. Giving 
our ownselves to the Lord, 2 Cor. viii. 5. not esteem- 
ing ourselves our own, but his that bought us, 1 Cor. 
vi. 19. and being willing that he who bought us 
should have the property in us, and the possession 
of us, and the dominion over us, and the liberty to do 
what he pleaseth with us. Being contented to be lost 
to ourselves, that we may be found in him, Phil. iii. 9. 
If sin or Satan call for our tongue, or heart, or hand, 
or eye, to answer, These are not mine own, Christ hath 
bought them, the Lord hath set them apart for him- 
self, Psa, iv. 3. They are " vessels for the master's 
use," 2 Tim. ii. 21. I am but the steward of myself, 
and may not dispose of my master's goods without, 
much less against, his own will and commands. 

Our services, which are matters of necessity, matters 
of expediency, and matters of praise. All which may 
be made the materials of a covenant. 

[1.1 Matter of duty and necessity. As David by 
ah oath binds himself to keep God's righteous judg- 
ments, Psa. cxix. 106. And the people in Nehemiah's 
time enter into a curse and an oath to walk in God's 
law, and to observe and do all his commandments, 
Neh. X. 29. 

[2.J Matter of circumstantial expediency, which in 
christian wisdom maybe conducive unto the main end 
of a man's life, or may fit him for any special condition 
which God calleth him unto. So tlie Eechabitea 

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promised thdr father Jonadab, and held that promise 
obligatory in the sight of God, '* not to drink tiine, 
nor to build house," &c. Jer. xxxv. 6, 7. because by 
that voluntary hardship of Mfe they should be the 
better fitted to bear that captivity wiuch was to come 
upon them. Or, because thereby they should the 
better express the condition of strangers amongst 
God's people, upon whose outward comforts they 
would not seem too much to encroach, that it might 
appear that they did not incorporate with them for 
mere secular, but for spiritual benefits. It was lawful 
for Paul to have received wages and rewards for his 
work in the gospel, as well of the churches of Achaia, 
as of Macedonia, and others^ as he proveth, I Cor. ix. 
4. 14. yet he seemeth upon the case of expediency, 
that he might cut off occasion from them that he 
desired occasion, and might the better promote the 
gospel, to bind himself by an oath (for so much those 
words, *' the truth of Christ is in me," do impart, as 
the learned have observed) never to be burdensome in 
that kind unto those churches, 2 Cor. xi. 7 — 12. 
Lawful things, when inexpedient and oppressive, 
may be finrbome by the bond of a covenant. 

[3.] Matter of thanksgiving and praises unto God, 
in which case it was usual to make and to pay vows. 
*' What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits 
towards me V* saith David. " I will take the cup of 
salvation,*' as the use of the Jews was in their feasts 
and sacrifices of thanksgiving, Luke xxii. 17. ** I will 
pay my vows unto the Lord." Whereby it appears 
that godly men when they prayed for merdes, did 
likewise by vows and covenants bind themselves to 
return tribute of praise in some particular kind or 
othei:, upon the hearing of their prayers, Psa. cxvi. 
12—14. cxxiii. 2, 3. So Jacob did, Gen. xxviii. 22. 

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And 80 Jephthah, Judg. xi. 30, 31. and so Hannah, 
1 Sam. i. 11. 27, 28. and so Hezekiah, Isa. xxxviii. 
20. and so Jonah, ch. ii. 9. So Zaccheus, to testify his 
thankfulness unto Christ for his conversion, and to 
testify his thorough mortification of covetousness, 
which had heen his master^sin, did not only out of 
duty make restitution where he had done wrong, hut 
out of bounty did engage himself to give the half of 
)iis goods to the poor, Luke xix. 8. 

'Hie formal cause of a covenant is the plighting of 
our fidelity, and engaging of our truth unto God in 
that particular, which is the matter of our covenant ; 
which is done two ways ; either by a simple promise 
^nd stipulation, as that of Zaccheus, or in a more 
solemn way by the intervention of an oath, or curse, 
or subscription, as that of Nehemiah, and the people 

(2.) The efficient cause is the person entering into 
the covenant. In whom these things are to concur, 

[1.] A clear knowledge, and deliberate weighing 
of the matter promised, because error, deception, or 
Ignorance, are contrary to the formal notion of that 
consent, which in every covenant is intrinsical, and 
necessarv thereunto. 

[2.] A free and willing concurrence. In every 
compact there must be freedom of will, and so in every 
promise. Not but that authority may impose oaths, 
and those as well promissory as assertory. Gen. xxiv. 3. 

1 Kings ii. 42. Ezra x. 3. 5. As Josiah made a 
covenant, and caused the people to stand unto it, 

2 Chron. xxxiv. 31, 32. But that the matter of it, 
though imposed, should be such in the nature of 
the thing, as that it may be taken in judgment, 
and righteousness, that so the person may not be 
hampered in any such hesitancy of conscience as 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — V£RSES 2, 3. 79 

will not consist with a pious, spontaneous, and volun- 
taiy concurrence thereunto. 

[3.] A power to make the promise, and bind 
oneself by it. For a man may have power to make 
a promise, which is not finally obligatory, but upon 
supposition. As a woman might for her own part 
vow, and by that vow was bound up as to herself, 
but this bond was but conditional, as to efficacy and 
influence upon the eflFect, to wit, if her husband heard 
it, and held his peace, Nmn. xxx 3. 14, 

[4.] A power, having made the promise, to perform 
it ; and this depends upon the nature of the thing, 
which must be first possible. No man can bind 
himself to things impossible. And next lawful, in 
regard either of the necessity, or expediency, or some 
other allowableness in the thing. For we can do 
nothing but that which we can do rightfully. SinM 
things are in construction of law impossible, and so 
can induce no obligation. A servant can make no 
promise to Uie dishonour or disservice of las master, 
nor a cliild or pupil contrary to the will of his parent 
or guardian, nor a christian to the dishonour or against 
the will of Christ whom he serves. In every such 
sinful engagement there is intrinsically deception, the 
heart is blinded by the deceitfiilness of lust, Eph. iv. 
18. 22. Heb. iii. 13. 2 Pet. i. 9. 2 Cor. xi. 3. And 
these things are destructive to the nature of such an 
action as must be deliberate and spontaneous. Pro- 
mises of this kind bind to nothing but repentance. 

From these considerations we may learn what to 
judge of the promises which many men make of doing 
service unto God. 

Some join in covenants, as the greatest part of that 
tumultuous concourse of people, who made an uproar 
against the apostle, were gathered together, " they 

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knew not wherefore," Acts xix. 32. they do not nnder- 
stand the things they promise. As if a man should set 
his hand and seal to an obligation, and not know the 
contents or condition of it. Such are all ignorant 
christians, who have often renewed their covenant of 
new obedience and faith in Christy and yet know not 
what the faith of Christ is, or what is the purity and 
spirituality of that law which they have sworn unto. 
As the apostle saith of the Jews, " If they had known, 
they would not have crucified the Lord of glory," we 
may say of many of these, if they knew the purity 
and holmess of those things which they have vowed to 
keep, they either would not have entered into covenant 
with God at all, or would be more conscientious and 
vigilant in their observation of it. It is a sign of a 
man desperately careless, to run daily into debt, and 
never so much as remember or consider what he owes. 
If there were no other obligation to tie men unto the 
knowledge of God's wUi, this alone were sufficient, 
that they have undertaken to serve him, and therefore 
by their own covenants are bound to know him. For 
surely many men who have promised repentance from 
their dead works, if they did indeed consider what 
that repentance is, and unto what a strict and narrow 
way of walking it doth confine them, wouM go nigh, 
if they durst, to plead an error m the contract, and to 
profess that they had not thought their obligation had 
engaged them unto so severe and rigid a service, and 
so would repent of their repentance. But in this 
case, ignorance of what a man ought to know, cannot 
avoid the covenant which he is bK)und to make, and 
having made, to keep ; but his covenant doth exceed- 
ingly aggravate his ignorance. 

Also some make many fair promises of obedience, but 
it is on the rack, and in the furnace, or as children under 

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the rod. Oh if I might but recover this sickness, or 
be eased of this affliction, I would then be a new man, 
and redeem my mispent time. And yet many of these, 
like Pharaoh, when they have any respite, find out 
ways to shift and delude their own promises, and, like 
melted metal taken out of the furnace, return again 
unto their former hardness. So a good divine observes 
of the people of this land in the time of the great 
eweat in king Edward's days, (I wish we could find 
even so much in these days of calamity which we are 
fallen unto,) as long as the heat of the plague lasted, 
there was crying out,. Mercy, good Lord, mercy, 
mercy. Then lords, and ladQes, and people of the 
best sort, cried out to the ministers. For God's sake 
tell us what shall we do to avoid the wrath of God. 
Take these bags, pay so much to such a one whom 
I deceived, so much restore unto another whom in 
bargaining I overreached, give so much to the poor, 
so much to |dou8 uses, &c. But after the sickness 
was over, they were just the same men as they were 
before. Thus in time of trouble men are apt to make 
many prayers, and covenants, to cry unto God, ** Arise 
and save us,** Jer. ii. 27. " Deliver us this time," 
Judg. X. 15. they inqiure early after God, and flatter 
him with their lips, and own him as their God, and 
rock of salvation, and presently start aside like a 
deceitful bow. As Austin notes, that in times of 
calamity the very heathen wouJd flock unto the 
christian churches to be safe amongst them. And 
when the Lord sent lions amongst the Samaritans, 
then they sent to inquire after the '* manner of his 
worship," 2 Kings xvii. 25, 26. Thus many men's 
covenants are founded only in terrors of conscience. 
They throw out their sins as a merchant at sea his 
rif^h commodities in a tempest, but in a calm wish for 

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liem again. Neither do they throw away the pro-* 
perty over them, but only the dangerous possesBion 
of them. This is not a full, cheerful, and voluntary 
action, but only a languid and inconstant willing 
contrary to that kugeness of heart, and fixed disposi- 
tion wluch Christ's own people bring unto his service, 
as David and the nobles d Israel offered willingly, 
and with joy unto the Lcvd, 1 Chron. xxix. 17. 

Since a covenant presupposeth a power in him that 
maketh it, both over his own wiD, and over the matter, 
thing, or action which he promiseth, so fisur as to be 
enabled to make the promise ; and since we of our- 
selves have neither will nor deed, nor sufficiency either 
to think or to perform, Rom. vii. 18. 2 Cor. iii. 5. 
Bhil. ii. 12. we hence learn in all the covenants 
which we make, not to do it in any confidence of 
our own strength, cht upon any dispendence on our 
own hearts, which are felse and deceitful, and may, 
after a confident undertaking, nse us as Peter's used 
him ; but still to have our eyes on the aid and he^ 
of God's grace, to use our covenants as means th^ 
better to stir up God's graces in us, and our prayer 
unto him for further supplies of it As Darid, ** I will 
keen thy statutes," but then, ** do not thou forsake 
me, ' Psa. cxix. 8. Our promises of duty mrust ever 
be supported by God's promises of grace , when we 
have undertaken to serve him, we must remember to 
pray as Hezekiah did, '* Lord, I am weak, do Ihoa 
undertake for me," Isa. xxxviii. 14. Our good works 
cannot come out of us, till God do first oi all '* work 
them in us," Isa. xxvi. 12. He must perform his 
promises of ffrace to us, hefote we can ours of service 
unto him. Notliing of ours can go to heaven, excent 
we first received it from Heaven. Wp are able to ** ao 
nothing but in and by Christ wliichstirengtheneth us," 

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ON HOSSA XIV.— 'YBItSES 2 8. 83 

John XV. 5. PhiL iv. 13. So that every religious 
covenant which we make, hath indeed a double obli. 
gation in it : an obligation to the duty promised, liiat 
we may stir up ourselves to perform it ; and an obli* 
gation unto prayer, and recourse to God that he 
would fiimish us with grace to perform it : as he that 
hath bound himself to pay a debt, and hath no money 
of his own to do it, is constrained to betake himself 
unto supplications, that he may procure the money of 
some other friend. 

The final cause of a covenant is to induce an obli- 
gation where was none before, or ^e to double and 
strengthen it where was one before, to i>e a bond to 
preserve truth and fidelity. Being subject unto many 
temptations, and haying backsliding and revolting 
hearts, apt, if they be not kept up to service, to draw 
back firom it, therefore we use ourselves as men do 
cowardly soldiers,— set them there where they must 
fight, and shall not be able to run away, or fall off 
from service. 

3. This should serve to humble us upon a twofold 

(1.) For the falseness and unstedfastiiess of our 
hearts, which want such covenants to bind them, and 
as it were fasten them to the altar with cords : as 
men put locks and fetters upon wild horses, whom 
otherwise no inclosure would shut in. Our hearts, as 
Jacob said of Keuben, Gen. xlix. 4. are unstable as 
water. Moist bodies (as water is) do not set bounds 
to themselves, as solid and compact bodies do, but 
shed all abroad, if left to themselves ; the way to keep 
them united, and together, is to put them into a dose 
vessel ; so the heart of man can set itself no bounds, 
but falls all asunder, and out of frame, if it be not 
fieutened and bound together by such strong resolutions. 

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Sometimes men, either by the power of the word, or 
hj the sharpness of some afflictions, are quickened 
and inflamed unto pious purposes, like green wood 
which blazeth while the bellows are blowing ; and now 
they think they have their hearts sure, and shall con- 
tinue them in a good frame, to-morrow shall be as this 
day. But presently, like an instrument in change of 
weather, they are out of tune again, and, like the 
chamelon, prti^ntly change colour, and as Chrysostom 
saith, the preacher,. of all workmen, seldom finds his 
work as he left it. Nothing but the grace of God 
doth balance and establish the heart, and holy cove- 
nants are an ordinance or means which he hath 
pleased to sanctify unto this purpose, that by them, 
as instruments, grace as the principal cause might 
keep the heart sted&st in duty. If then Isaiah bewail 
the uncleanness of his lips, and Job suspect the un- 
cleanness and wandering of his eyes, what reason have 
we to be humbled for this unstedfastness of our hearts, 
from whence tlie diffluence and looseness of every 
other faculty proceeds. 

(2.) If we must bewail the falseness of our hearts 
that stand in need of covenants, how much more 
should we bewail their perfidiousness in the violation 
of covenants! That they take occasion, even by 
restraint, like a river that is stopped in his course, to 
grow more unruly. Or, as a man after an ague, 
which took away his stomach, to return with stronger 
appetite unto sin again. To crucify our sins, and in 
repentance to put them, as it were, to shame, and 
then to take them down from the cross again, and 
fetch them to life, and repent of repentance. To vow, 
and " after vows to make inquiry," Prov. xx. 25. 
This is a very ill requital unto Christ. He came 
from glory to suffer for us, and here met with many 

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disccmTagemenis, not only from enemies, but from 
friends and disciples : Judas betrays him, Peter denies 
him, his disciples sleep, his kinsfolks stand afar ofiF, 
yet he doth not look back from a cross to a crown ; 
and though he be tempted to come down from the 
cross, yet he stays it out, that he might love, and save 
us to the uttermost ; but we no sooner out of Egypt 
and Sodom, but we have hankering affections to return, 
at the least to look backwards again. AVe engage 
ourselves to be ruled by the word of the Lord, as the 
Jews did, Jer. xlii. 5, 6. and with them, Jer. xliii, 2. 
when we know his word, cavil against it, and shrink 
away from our own resolutions. O how should tliis 
humble us, and make us vile in our own eyes ! God 
is exceedingly angry witli the breach of but human 
covenants, Jer. xxxiv. 18. Ezek. xvii. 18. how 
much more with the breach of holy covenants between 
himself and us ! and threateneth severely to revenge 
the quarrel of his covenant. Lev. vi. 25. and so 
doubtless he now doth, and will do still, except we 
take a penitent revenge upon ourselves for it. And 

4. Having entered into covenant we should use 
double diligence in our performance of it, quickening 
and stirring up ourselves thereunto. 

(1.) By the consideration of Uie stability of his 
covenant with us, even the ** sure mercies of David," 
Isa. liv. 8, 9. Iv. 8. To break ^th wiA a felse per* 
son were a fault, but to deceive Him that never 
fails nor forsakes us, increaseth both the guilt and 
Ae unkindness. 

(2.) By consideration of his continued and renewed 
mercies. If he were a wilderness unto us, there 
might be some colour to make us repent of our 
bargain, and to look out for a better service. But it 


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is not only unthankfolness, but folly to make a for<^ 
feiture of mercies, and to put God by our breach of 
covenant with him, to break his with us too, Jer. ii. 
5—7. 31. Numb. xiv. 34. 

(S.) By consideration of our baptism and the tenour 
thereof, wherein we solemnly promise to keep a good 
conscience, and to ''observe all things whatsoever 
Christ commandeth us," 1 Pet. iii. 21. Matt, xxviii. 
19, 20. from which engagement we cannot recede 
without the note and infamy of greater perfidiousness. 
To take Christ's pay, and do sin service, to be a sub* 
ject unto Michael, and a pensioner unto the dragon, 
to wear the livery of one master, and do the work oi 
another ; to be an Israelite in title, and a Samaritan 
in truth, this is either to forget or to deride our 
baptism, 2 Pet. i. 9. for therein we did, as it were, 
subscribe our names, and list ourselves in the register 
of Sion ; and as it is a high honour to be enrolled in 
the genealogies of the church, so it is a great dishonour 
to be expunged from thenoe, and to be written in the 
earth, and have our names with our boc^s putrify in 
perpetual oblivion, Jer. xvii. 13. Neh. vii. 64, 65. 

(4.) Consider the seal and witnesses whereby this 
covenant hath been confirmed. Sealed in our own 
consciences by the seal of faith, believing the holiness 
of God's ways, and the exceUency of his rewards, for 
«« he that believeth halh set to his seal," Jolm iii. S3. 
mutually attested by our spirits, feeling the sweetness 
of duty, and by God's Sfint revealing the certainty of 
reward, Rom. i. 16. and this in die presence of angels 
and saints, into whose communion we are a^itted> 
1 Cor. xi. 10. Heb. xti. 22. so that we cannot depart 
from this covenant, without shaming ourselves to God, 
to angels, to men, and to our own oonsciences. Yea, 
the font where we were baptized, and ihe ti^te where 

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we have sacramentally eaten and drank the hody and 
blood of Christ, and the very seats where we have 
sat attending unto his voice, like Joshua's stone, 
ch. xxii. 24. 27. will be witnesses against us if we 
deny our covenant, though there be no need of witnesses 
against those who have to do with the Searcher of 
hearts, and the Judge of consciences, that consuming 
fire whom no lead, no dross, no reprobate silver, no 
false metal, can endure or deceive, no Ananias or 
Sapphira'lie unto, without their own undoing. 

JLastly, let us consider the estate which Uiese cove* 
nants do refer unto, and our tenure whereunto these 
services are annexed, which is eternal life. After we 
have had patience to keep our short promises of doing 
God's will, he will perform his eternal promises oi 
giving himself unto us. And who would forfeit an 
inheritance for not payment of a small homage or 
quit-rent reserved upon it ? If we expect eternal life 
from him, there is great reason we should dedicate a 
mortal life unto him. Let us not pay our service in 
(frosSy when we expect our wages in gokL 


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Haying handled the general doctrine of our entering 
into covenant with God, I shall now proceed unto 
the particulars which they here engage themselves 
unto, whereof the first is a solemn thanksgiving ; ** We 
will render the calves of our lips/ All the sacrifices 
of the Jews were of two sorts. Some were ilastical, 
propitiatory, or expiatory, for pardon of sin, or impe- 
tration of favour : others were eucharistical sacrifices 
of praise (as the peace-offerings. Lev. vii. 12.) for 
mercies ohtained, Psal. cvii. 22. With relation unto 
these, the church here, having prayed for forgiveness 
of sin, and for the obtaining of blessings, doth here- 
upon, for the farther enforcement of those petitions, 
promise to offer the peace-offerings of praise, not in 
the naked and empty ceremony, but wi^ the spiritual 
life and substance, namely, the calves of their lips, 
which are moved by the inward principles of hearty 
sincerity and thanksgiving. 

From hence we learn, that sound conversion and 
repentance enlargeth the heart in thankliilness 
towards God, and disposeth it to offer up the sacrifice 
of praise. And this duty here promised, cometh in 

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ON H0S9A XIV. — VERSES 2, 3. 89 

Ihis place under several confiiderations, for we may 
consider it, 

I. As the matter of a covenant or compact, which 
we promise to render unto God in acknowledgment 
of his great mercy in answering the prayers which we 
put up unto him for pardon and grace. It is ohservable 
that most of those psakns wherein David imploreth 
belp from God» are closed with thanksgiving unto him, 
as Psa. vii. 17. xiii* 6. Ivi. 12, 13. Ivii. 7—11. &c. 
David thus by a holy commerce insinuating into God's 
favour, and driving a trade between earth and heaven, 
receiving and returning, importing one commodity^ 
and transporting another, let^g God know that liis 
mereies shall not be lost, that as he bestows the com- 
forts of them upon liim, so he would return the 
praises of them unto Heaven again. Those countries 
that have rich and staple commodities to exchange 
and return u&to others, have usoally the freest and 
fullest traffic and resort of trade made unto them» 
Now there is no such rich return from earth to heaven 
as praise. This is indeed &e only tiibute we can pay 
unto God, to value, ai^ to celebrate his goodness 
towards us. As in tiie flux and reflux of the sea ; 
the water that in the one comes from the sea unto 
the shore, doth in tlie other but run back into itself 
again : so praises are as it were the return of mercies 
unto themselves, or into that bosom and fountain of 
God's love from whence they flowed. And therefore 
the richer any heart is in praises, the more speedy and 
ci^iotts are the returns of mercy unto it* God hath 
so ordered the creatures amongst themselves, that 
there is a kind of natural confederacy and mutual 
negotiation amongst them, each one recdving and 
returning, deriving unto others, and drawing from 
others what serves most for the conservation of them 

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90 THia]> 8BILM0N 

alU and every thing by various interchanges and 
vicissitudes flowing back into the original from whence 
it came : thereby teaching the souls of men to main- 
tain the like spiritual commerce and confederacy with 
Heaven, to have all the passages between them and 
it open and unobstructed, that the mercies which they 
receive from thence, may not be kept under, and im- 
prisoned in unthankfulness, but may have a free way 
m daily praises to return to their fountain again. 
Thus Noah, after his deliverance from the flood, 
built an altar, on which to sacrifice the sacrifices of 
thanksgiving ; that as his family by the ark was pre- 
served from perishing, so the memory of so great a 
mercy might in like manner by the altar be preserved 
too, Gen. viii. 20. So Abraham, after a weary journey 
being comforted with God's gracious appearing and 
manifestation of himself unto him, built an altar, and 
** called on the name of the Lord," Gen. xii. 7. and 
after another journey out of Egypt, was not forgetful 
to return unto that place again. Gen. xiii. 4. God's 
presence drawing forth his praises, as the return of 
the sun in spring and summer, causeth the earth to 
thrust forth her fruits and flowers, that they may as it 
were meet and do homage to the fountain of their 
beauty. If Hezekiah may be delivered from death, 
Isa. xxxviii. 20. if David from guilt, Psa. li. 14. they 
promise to sing aloud of so great a mercy, and to* 
take others into the concert, '* I will teach transgressors 
thy way : and we will sing upon the stringed instru- 
ments." Guilt stops the mouth, and makes it speech- 
less, Matt. xxii. 12. that it cannot answer for one of 
a thousand sins, nor acknowledge one of a thousand 
mercies. When Jacob begged God's blessing on him 
in his journey, he vowed a vow of obedience and 
thankfulness to the Lord, seconding God's promises 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 2, 3. 91 

of mercy, with his promises of praise, and answering 
all the parts thereof, " If God will be with me, and keep 
me, I will be his, and he shall be mine. If he sinffie 
out me and my seed, to set us up as marks for his 
angels to descend unto with protection and mercy, and 
will indeed give this land to us, and return me unto 
my father's house ; then this stone which I have set 
up for a pillar and monument, shall be God's house, 
for me and my seed to praise him in ;" and accordingly 
we find he built an altar there, and changed the name 
of that place, calling it the house of God, and God, 
the God of Bethel. And lastly, <* If God indeed will not 
leave nor forsake me, but will give so rich a land as 
this unto me, I will surely return a homage back, and 
of his own, I will give the tenth unto him again." So 
punctual is this holy man to stipulate for each distinct 
promise a distinct praise, and to take the quality of his 
vows, from the quality of God's mercies. Gen. xxviuL 
20. 22. compared with verses 13. 15. Gen. xxxv. 6, 7. 
14, 15. Lastly, Jonah out of the belly of hell cries 
unto God, and voweth a vow unto him, that he would 
sacrifice with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell all 
ages, that salvation is of the Lord, Jonah ii. 9. Thus 
we may consider praises as the mattier of the church's 

II. As a fruit of true repentance, and deliverance 
from sin. When sin is taken away, when grace is 
obtained, then indeed is a man in a right dispositiou 
to give praises unto God. When we are brought out 
of a wildemess into Canaan, Deut. viii. 10. out of 
Babylon unto Sion, Jer. xxx. 18, 19. then saith the 
prophet, " Out of them shall proceed thanksgiving, and 
the v(Hce of them that make merry," &c. When 
Israel had passed through the Red Sea, and saw the 
Egyptians dead on the shore, the great type of our. 

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deliverance from sin, death, and Satan, then they sing 
that triumphant song, Moses and the men singing 
the song, and Miriam and the women answering 
them, and repeating over again the btirden of the song, 
*• Sing to the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously, 
the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea," 
Exod. XV. 1. 20, 21. When a poor wvl hath been 
with Jonah in the midst of the seas, compassed with 
the floods, closed in with the depths, brought down to 
the bottom of the mountains, wrapt about head and 
heart, and all over with the weeds, and locked up with 
the bars of sm and death, when it hath felt the weight 
of a guilty conscience, and been terrified with the 
fearful expectation of an approaching curse, lying as 
it were at the pit's brink, within the smoke of hell ; 
within the smell of that brimstone, and scorchings of 
that unquenchable fire which is kindled for the devil 
and his angeh : and is then by a more bottomless 
and unsearchable mercy brought unto dry land, 
snatched as a brand out of the fire, translated unto a 
glorious conation, from a law to a gospel, from a 
curse to a crown, fpom damnation to an inheritance, 
from a stave to a son ; then, then only, never till then, 
is that soul in a fit disposition to sing praises unto 
God, when God hath forgiven all a man s iniquities, 
and healed ali the diseases of his soul, and redeemed 
his life from destruction, or from heU, as the Chaldee 
rendew^th it, and crowned him with loving-kindness 
and tender mercies, turning away his anger, and re- 
vealing those mercies which are from everlasting in 
election unto everlasting in salvation, removing his 
sins from him as fiir as the east is ^om the west ; 
then a man will call upon his soul over ana over 
again, and summon every faculty within him, and 
invite every creature without liim to bless the Lord, 

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ON H08BA Xlt". — VE&SES 2, 3 99 

and to utter praises unto his holy name, Psa. ciii. 1. 4. 
20. 22. And as David there begins the psalm, with 
* * Bless the Lord, O my soul," and ends it with " Bless 
the Lord, O my soul :" so the apostle, making mention 
of the like mercy of God unto him, and of the exceed- 
ing abundant grace of Christ, in setting forth him who 
was a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious, as a 
pattern unto all that should believe on him unto eternal 
life, begins his meditation with praises, ** I thank 
Christ Jesus our Lord;*' and ends it with praises, 
** Unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only 
wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. 
Amen,** 1 Tim. i. 12. 17. It is hnpossible that soul 
should be truly thankful unto* God, which hath no ap- 
prehensions of him, but as an enemy, ready to call in, 
or at the least to curse all those outward benefits which 
in that little interim and respite of time between the 
curse pronounced in the law, and executed in death, 
he vouchsafeth to bestow. And impenitent sinners 
can have no true notion of God but such. And there- 
fore all the verbal thanks which such men seem to 
render unto God for blessings, are but like the music 
of a funeral, or the trumpet before a judge, which gives 
no comfortable sound to the mourning wife, or to the 
guilty prisoner. 

III. As an argument and motive to prevail with 
God in prayer. For the church here prays for par- 
don, for grace, for healing, not only with an eye to 
its own benefit, but unto God's honour. Lord, when 
thou hast heard and answered us, then shall we glorify 
thee, Psa. 1. 15. *' I shall praise thee," saith David, 
*' for thou hast heard me, and art become my salva- 
tion," Psa. cxviii. 21. It is true, if God condemn us, 
he will herein show forth his own glory, 2 Thess. i. 9, 
as he did upon Pharaoh, Rom. ix. 17. In which 

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sense the strong and terrible ones are said to glorUy 
him, Isa. xxv. 3. Because his power in their destruc- 
tion is made the more conspicuous. But we should 
not therein concur unto the glorifying of him, " The 
grave cannot praise him ; they that go down into the 
pit cannot celebrate his name," Psa. xxx. 9. IxxxviiL 
10, 11. ''The living, the living, they shaU praise 
tbee," Isa. xxxviii. 19. This is a frequent argumeot 
with David whereby to prevail for mercy, because else 
God would lose the praise wliich by this means lie 
should render to his name, Psa. vi. 4, 5. cxviii. 17^ 
&c. God indeed is all-sufficient to himself, and no 
goodness of ours can extend unto him, Job xxii, 2. 
XXXV. 7. Yet as parents delight to use the labour of 
their children im things which are no way beneficial 
imto tliemselves ; so God is pleased to use us as in- 
struments &nr setting forth hb glory, though his glory 
stand in no need of us, thou^ we cannot add one 
cubit thereunto. He hath made all men unto the 
uses of las unsearchable comisels. '* He hath made 
all things for himself, yea, even the wicked for the day 
ci cvii,** Prov, xvL 4. Yet he is {leased to esteem 
i^me men meet for uses whkh others are not, 2 Tim. 
it. 21. dnd to set apart some for himself, and for those 
uses, Psa. iv. 3. Isa. xliii. 21. God by his wisdom 
ordereth, and draweth the bUnd and brute motions of 
the worst eireaiture» unto his own honour «. as the hunts- 
man does the rage of the dog to his pleasure, or the 
mariner the blowing of the wind unto his voyage, or 
the artist the heat of the fire unto his work, or the 
physician the blood-thirstiness of the leech unto a 
cure. But godly men are fitted to bring actually 
glory unto Mm, to glorify him doingly, 1 Cor. x. 
30, 31. Eph. i. 11, 12. And this is that which God 
chiefty takes pleasure -. 

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ON H09BA XIV. — YBl^SES 2, 3. 95 

Our Saviour bids his disciples cast their net into 
the sea, and when they had drawn their net, he bids 
them bring of the fish which they had then caught ; 
and yet we find that there was a fire of coals, and fish 
laid thereon, and bread provided on the land before, 
John xxi. 6. 9, 10 : thereby teaching us that he did 
not use their industry for any need tliat he had of it, 
but because he would honour them so far as to let 
them honour him with their obedience. And therefore 
even then when God tells his people that he needed 
not their services, yet he calls upon them for thanks- 
giving, Psa. 1. 9. 14. 

This then is a strong argument to be used in prayer 
for pardon, for grace, for any spiritual mercy : Lord, 
if I perish, I shall not praise thee, I shall not be meet 
for my Master's uses. Thy glory will only be forced 
out of me with blows, like fire out of a flint, or water 
out of a rock. Sut thou delightett to see thy poor 
servants operate towards thy glory, to see them not 
forced by power, but by love to show forth thy praises. 
And this we shall never do till sin be pardoned. God 
can bring light out of light, as the light of the stars 
out of the light of the sun, and he can bring light out 
of darkness, as he did at first : but in tiie one case 
there is a meetness for such a use, in the other not. 
Now we are not meet subjects for God to reap honour 
from, till sin be pardoned, till grace be conferred. 
Then we shall give him the praise of his mercy in 
pitying such grievous sinners, and the paise of his 
jiower and wisdom in healing such mortal diseases, 
and the praise of his glorious and free ^ace, in &end>- 
ing salvation to those that did not inquire after it, and 
the praise of his patience in forbearing us so long, and 
waiting that he might be gracious, and the praise of 
bis ivonderful providence in causing all things to work 

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together for our good, and the praise of his justice bf 
taking part with him against our own sins, and join: 
ing with his grace to revenge the blood of Christ upd 
them. A potsherd is good enough to hold fire, bit 
nothing but a sound and pure vessel is meet to put 
wine or any rich deposit into. 

IV. As a principle of emendation of life, and of 
new obedience. Lord take away iniquity, and receive 
us into favour, then will we be thankful unto thee, and 
that shall produce amendment of life ; ** Asshur shall 
not save us, neither will we ride upon horses," &c. 
A thankful apprehension of the goodness of God in 
forgiving, giving, saving, honouring us, is one of the 
principal foundations of sincere obedience. Then 
the soul will think nothing too good for God, who 
hath showed himself so good unto it. ** What shall 
I render unto the Lord for all his benefits," saith the 
prophet David, Psa. cxvi. 12. and a little after it fol- 
lows, *' O Lord, truly I am thy servant, I am thy ser- 
vant, and the son of thine handmaid ;" that is, a home- 
born servant, thine from my mother's womb. It is 
an allusion to those who were born of servants in the 
house of their masters, and so were in a condition of 
servants. If the mother be a handmaid, the child is a 
servant too, and so the scripture calleth them children 
of the house. Gen. xiv. 14.xv. 8.xvii. 12. Lev. xxii. 11. 
£cc. ii. 6. His heart being enlarged in thankfulness, 
presently reminded him of the deep engagements 
that did bind him unto service even from the womb. 
True filial and evangelical obedience ariseth from fatth 
and love. Faith shows us God's love to us, and thereby 
worketh in us a reciprocal love unto him ; *' We love 
him, because he first loved us," 1 John iv. 19. This 
is the only thing wherein a servant of God may answer 
him, and may, as Bernard spe^dcs, return back unto 

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God what he gives unto him. If he he angry with 
me, I must not be angry again with him, but fear and 
tremble, and beg for pardon. If he reprove me, I 
must not reprove but justify him : if he judge me, ' 
I must not judge but adore him. But if he love me, I 
must take the boldness to love him again, for there- 
fore he loves that he may be loved. And this love of ours 
unto Christ makes us ready to do every thing which 
he requires of us, because we know that he hath done 
much more for us than he requireth of us. " The love 
of Christ," saith the apostle, ** constraineth us, because 
we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all 
dead ;'' ^t is, either dead in and with him in regard of 
the guilt and punishment of sin, so as to be freed from 
the damnation of it, or ^ dead by way of conformity 
unto his death," in dying unto sin, and crucifying the 
old man, so as to shake off the power and strength of 
it. And the fhiit of all, both in dying and in loving, 
is this, ** That we should not live unto ourselves, but 
unto him that died for us and rose again." Thus love 
argues from the greater to the less, from the great- 
ness of his work for us, to the smallness of ours unto 
him. If he died to give us life, then we must live to 
do him service. 

Fear produceth servile and unwilling performances, 
as those fruits which grow in winter, or in cold coun- 
tries, are sour, unsavoury, and unripened ; but those 
which grow in summer, or in hotter countries, by the 
warmth and influence of the sun, are sweet and whole- 
some : such is the difference between those fruits of 
obedience which fear and which love produce. The 
most formal principle of obedience is love, and the 
first beginnings of love in us unto God arise from his 
mercies unto us beins thankfully remembered ; and 
this teacheth the sow thus to argue ; *' God hath 

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given deliveranoes unto me, and should I break his 
commandments r Ezra xiii. 14. Christ gave himself 
to redeem me from all iniquity, and to make me 
in a special manner his own, therefore I must be 
«• zealous of good works," Tit. ii. 14. therefore I 
must ^* show K)rth the virtues of him that called me 
out of darkness into his marvellous light," 1 Pet ii. 9. 
No more frequent, more copious common place in all 
the scriptures than this to call for obedience, and to 
aggravate disobedience by the consideration of the 
great things that God hath done for us, Deut xiii. 
20, 21. xi. 7, 8. xxix. xxxii. 6, 7. Josh. xxiv. 2 — 14. 
1 Sam. xii. 24. Isa. i. 2. Jer. iL 5, 6. Hos. ii. 8. Mic. 
vi. 3. 5. In the law a ransomed man became the 
servant of him tiat bought and delivered him : and 
upon tlus argument the apostle calls for obedience ; 
" Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a 
price : therefore glorify God in your body, and in your 
spirit, whidi are God's," 1 Cor. vi. 19, 20. We have 
but the use of ourselves, the property is his, and we 
may do nothing to violate that. 

V. As a means and instrument of publishing God's 
praises. There is an emphasis in the word " lips.*' Some- 
times it is a diminutive word, taking away from the 
duty performed, as Matt. xv. 8. ** This people honoureth 
me with their lips, but their heart is far from me." 
But here it is an augmentative word, that enlargeth the 
duty, and makes it wider. " I will sacrifice unto thee," 
saith Jonah, *' with the voice of thanksgiving,*' Jonah 
ii. 9. God regardeth not the sacrifice, if this be not 
the use that is made of it ; to publish and celebrate 
the glory of his name. The outward ceremony is 
nothing without the thankfulness of the heart, and the 
thankfulness of the heart is too little, except it have 
a voice to proclaim it abroad, that others may learn 

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to gloiify and a4mire the works of the Lord too. It 
ia not enough to sacrifice the sacriiSoes of thanks^ 
giving, except withal we *^ declare his works with 
rejoieiag," Psa. cviL 22. There is a private thankfiilxiesa 
of the soul within itself, when, meditating on the good- 
ness of God„ it doth in secret retum tha tnbute of an 
huffihlfi and obedient heart baek again unCo hnn, 
whicb is to praise God on f he bed $ and there is public 
thaB^M[iving, when men " tell of the wondrous works 
of God in the congregation of his saints," Psa 
cxiiat. &< xxvi. 7. 12. Now heate the church pro- 
misetlb tbi» publie thaaksgiTittg, it shall not be the 
thankMnesft of the heart only, buA of the lips too. 
M it ifr noted of the thankful leper, that ^' with a loud 
vw» he glorified God," Luke xvii. 1 5. *' Hie living, 
the living shall piaise thee," saith Hezekiah ; but how 
shddl t^ey do it ? ''The father to the children 
shall make known thy truth," Isa. xxxviii. 19. There 
ave aeme afibctioBS and motions of the heart tliat do 
stof^ tlie moMkh, are of a oold, stupfying, and eon- 
strafiDulg natofe,! as the smp stays and httes ikseif in 
the root wl^ it » winter. Such is fear and extvemity 
of gj;^t '' Coni&;' saith the prophet, " let us 
entar into the defenoed citiesy and let as be sifent 
fhere^ fat the Lord oiur God faakb put us to silenee," 
Jer. viih 14. Other affections open the mouth, are 
of an estpansive and dikitJng nature, know not how 
to he straitened o« suf^ressed, and of all thsscf jo^, 
and sense of God's mercy, can least oomtaini itsetf in 
the compass of our narrow breast, but will spread and 
communicate itself to others. A godly heart is in this 
like usuto thcMs flsweis which shut when the sun sets, 
when the night comes, and open again when the sun 
returns and shines upon them. If God withdraw his 
favour, and send a night of affliction, they shut up 
I 2 

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ihemselves and their thoughts in fiilence; but if he 
shine again, and shed abroad the light and sense of 
nis love upon them, then their heart and mouth is 
wide open towards heaven in lifting up praises unto 
him. Hannah prayed silently so long as she was in 
bitterness of soul and of a sorrowful spirit, 1 Sam. 
i. 12. 15. but as soon as God answered her prayers, 
and filled her heart with joy in lum, presently her 
mouth was enkrged into a song oi tnanksgiving, 
cK ii. 1. 

There is no phrase more usual in the Psalms, than 
to sing forth praises unto God, and it is not used 
without a special emphasis. For it is one thing to 
praise, and another to sing praises, Psa. cxlvi. 8. 
This is, to publish, to declare, to speak of, abundantly 
to utter the memory of God's great goodness, that one 
generation may derive praises unto another, as the 
expressions are, Psa. cxlv. 4. 7. . And therefore we 
find in the most solemn thanksgivings, that the people 
of God were wont in great companies, and wiUi mu- 
sical instruments to sound forth the praises of God, 
and to cause their joy to be heard anir off, Neh. xiL 
27. 31 . 43. Isa* xii. 4—6. Jer. xxxi. 7. This then is 
the force of the expression, Lord, when thou hast taken 
away iniquity, and extended thy grace and favour to 
us, we mil not only have thankful hearts, every man 
to praise thee bv himself; but we will have thankful 
lips to show form thy praise, we will stir up and en- 
courage one another, we will tell our cliildren, that 
the generations to come may know the mercy of our 

This is a great part of the communion of saints, to 
join together in God's praises. There is a communion 
of sinners, wherein they combine together to dis- 
honour God, and encourage one another in evil. 

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ON HOSEA Xiy.--^V£RBE8 2, 3. 101 

FssL Ixiv; 5. Ixxxiii. 5. 8. Prov. i. 10, II. Eve was 
no sooner eaught herself, than she became a kind of ser- 
pent to deceive and to catch her husband. A tempter 
had no sooner made a sinner, than that sinner became 
a tempter; As there^e Go^s enemies hold com- 
munion to dishonour him ; so great reason there is 
that his servants should hold communion to praise 
him, and to animate and hearten one another unto 
duty, as men that draw at an anchor, and soldiers that 
set upon a service use to do with mutual encourage- 
ments, Isa. ii. 3. Zee. viii. 21. Mai. iii. 16. The holy 
oil for the sanctuary was made of many spices, com- 
pounded by the art of the perfumer, £xod. xxx. 23—25. 
to note unto us that those dlities are sweetest which 
are made up in a communion of saints, each one con^ 
tributing his influence and furtherance unto them : 
as in winds and rivers where many meet in one they 
are strongest ; and in chains and jewels where many 
links and stones are joined in one, they are richest. 
All good is dif^ive, like leaven in a himp, like sap 
in a root ; it will find the way from the heart to 
every fectrfty of soul and body, and from thence to the 
ears and hearts erf others. Every living creature was 
made with the seed of Kfe in it ; to preserve itself 
by muMpiying, Gen. i. 11, 12. And of all seeds^ 
that of the Spirit, and the word, 1 John iii. 9, 1 Pet. 
i. 23. is most vigorous, and in nothing so much as ia 
glorifying God, when the joy of the Lord, which is 
our streii^, doth put itself forth to derive the praises 
of his name, and to call in others to the celebration of 

From all which we learn, 

1. By what means (amongst many others) to try 
the truth of our conversions ; namely, by the life and 
workings of true thankfulness unto God for pardon of 

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sin, and accepting into fitvour. Certainly when a man 
is converted himself, his heart will be enlarged, and 
his mouth will be filled with the praises of the Lord^ he 
will acquaint others what a good God he is turned unto. 
If he have found Christ himself, as Andrew and 
Philip, and the woman of Samaria did, he will pre- 
sently report it to others, and invite them to come and 
see, John i. 41. 46. iv. 29. If Zaccheus be converted, 
he receiveth Christ joyfully, Luke xix. 6. If Matthew 
be converted, he entertains him with a feast, Luke 
V. 29. If Cornelius be instructed in the knowledge 
of him, he will call his kinsfolk and firiends to partake 
of such a banauet. Acts x. 24. If David be con- 
verted himself, he will endeavour that other sinners 
may be converted too, Psa. li. 13. and will show them 
what the Lord hath done for his soul. The turning 
of a sinner from evil to good, is like the turning of a 
bell from one side to another, you cannot turn it but 
it will make a sound, and report its own motion. He 
that hath not a mouth open to report the glory of 
God's mercy to his soul, and to strengthen and edify 
hb brethren, may justly question the truth of his own 
conversion. In Aaron's garments, (which were types of 
holiness,) tiiere were golden bells and pomegranates ; 
if we may make any allegorical application of it^ 
this intimateth unto us, that as a holy life is fitut- 
ful and active in the duties of spiritual obedience, so 
it is loud and vocal in sounding forth the praises of 
God, and thereby endeavouring to edify the churclu 
Gideon's lamps and pitchers were accompanied with 
trumpets ; when God is pleased to put any light of 
crace into these earthen vessels of ours, we should 
have mouths full of thankfulness to return unto him 
the glory of his goodness. 

And as that repentance is unsound wliich is not 

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aocompanied with thankfulness, so that thankfulness 
is but empty and hypocritical, which doth not spring* 
out of sound repentance. We use to say that the 
words of fools are bom in their lips, but the words 
of wise men are drawn up out of an inward judgment. 
The calves of the lips are no better than the adves of 
the stall in God's account, if they have not a heart 
in them. Without this, the pnxnise here made to 
God would be no other than that with which niBPses 
deceive their little cliildren, when they promise theii» 
a gay golden new nothing. Praise in the moutb 
without repentance in the heart, is like a sear-weed^ 
that grows without a root. Like the pouring of balm 
and spices upon a dead body, which can never 
thoroughly secure it from putrefaction. Like a per- 
fume dbout one sick e£ the plague, whose sweet smett 
carries infection along with it. It is not the mel^- 
tioning of mercies, but the improving of them unto 
pety, which expresseth our thankfulness unto God. 
God sets every blessing upon our score, and expects 
an answer and return suitable.. He compares Chorazin 
and Bethsaida with Tyre and Sidon ; and if their 
lives be as bad as these, their punishment shall be 
much heavier, because the mercies they enjoyed were 
much greater. The not using of mercies is the being 
unthankfiil for them. And it is a heavy account which 
men must give for abused mercies. Dent, xxxii. 6. 
Amos ii. 9 — 13. Lukeiii. 7. Heb. vi. 7. Sins against 
mercy, and under mercy, are the first ripe fruit ; when 
the sun shines hotte8t,'the fruits ripen fastest, Amos 
▼iii. 1, 2. Jer. i. 11, 12. God doth not bear so long 
witli the provocations of a church, as of those that 
are not a people ; the sins of the Amorites were 
longer in ripening than the sins of IsraeL When 
judgment is abroad, it will begin at the house of God. 

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3. We shotdd be so muck t^e more eafittesfly 
pressed unto this, by how much it is the greater evi- 
dence of our conversion unto God, and by how much 
more apt we are to call for mercies when we want 
them, than with the leper to return praises when we 
da enjoy them. Ten cried to be healed, but there 
was but one that returned glory to God. Vessels will 
sound when they are empty ; fill them and they are 
presently dumb. When we want mercies, then with 
Pharaoh we cry out for pardon, for peace, for sup- 
plies, for deliverance ; but when prayers are answered, 
and our turn served, how few remember the method 
whieh God prescribes, " Call upon me in the day of 
trouble, I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me V* 
Fsa. 1. 15. yea how many like swine trample on the 
meat that feeds them, and tread under foot the mercies 
that preserve them ! How many ate so greedily in- 
tent upon the things they desire, that they cannot see 
nor value the things they enjoy ! It is noted even of 
good king Hezekiah, that he did not render accord- 
ing to the benefits which he had received, 2 Chron. 
xxxiL 25. Therefore we should be exhorted in our 
prayers for pardon and grace; to do as the church 
here doth, to promise the sacrificea of tiiankfuiness and 
obedience ; not as a price to purchase mercy, (for cmr 
good extends not unto God, Psa. xvi. 2.) but as a tie 
and obligation upon om*selves, to acknowledge and 
return the praise of mercy to him that gives it. And 
this the apostle exhorteth us unto, *' that our requests 
should be made known unto God," not only with 
prayer and supplication, but with thanksgiving, Phil, 
iv. 6. 1 Thess. v. 17, 18. 1 Tim. ii. 1. which we find 
to have been his own practice, Eph. iii. 14. 20, 21. 
We should keep a catalogue of God's mercies to 
quicken us unto duty, as well as a catalogue of our 

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ON HOSEl XIV. — ^VERSSS 2, 8. lOS 

owti silks to make us cry for mercy. And unto this 
duty of thanksgiving we may be excited : 

By the consideration of CfocP 8 greatnesa, *^ Great is 
tlie Lord, and therefore greatly to be praised," Psa« 
cxlv. 3. The praises of God should be according to 
his name, Psa. xlviii. 10. xcvi. 8. All things were 
made for no other end, but to return glory to him 
that made them. Because all things are of him, 
therefore all must be to him, Rom. xi. 36. and this 
the very figure of the world teacheth us ; for a cir* 
cular line ends where it began, and returns back into 
its original point, by that means streuffthening and 
preserving itself. For things ace usuidly strongest 
when nearest their original, and the more remote from 
that, die weaker they grow. As a tree is strongest at 
the root, and a branch or bough next the tnmk or 
stock, and the further out it goes from tiience, the 
smaller and weaker it grows too ; and the- fiurtlier it 
is from the original of its beinig,.the neaxerit is imta 
not being : so all creatures are hereby taught, botb 
£or preservation of that being they have, and' foit 
supply of what perfections they want, and in both 
for the setting forth of Ihe greatness of their Makers 
(out of whose infinite Being all finite beings axe* 
sustained and perfected,) to run back unto God for 
whose sake they are and have been created Rivers, 
come from the sea, and therefore run back into the 
sea again. The trees receive sap from the earth, and 
within a while pay it back in those leaves that fidl 
down to the earth again. Now as God hath made all 
creatures thus to show forth the glory of his greatness^ 
so he will have them do it by these principles, and in 
that manner of working which he hath planted, in 
them. Inanimate and mere natural creatures are bid 
to praise the Lord, Psa. cxlviii. 8, 9. but this they do 

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blind and ignorantly, like the arrow which iies to- 
ward the mark, but understandeth not ks own motion, 
being directed thither by a» understanding without 
and above itself. And thus when every thing by the 
natural weight and inclination of its own form moveth 
to the place where it may be preserved,, or draweth to 
it those further degrees of perfection whereby it may 
be improved, and have more of being eommunkated 
to it, it may truly be said to praise the Lord, in that 
it obeyeth the law which he planted in it, and it is by 
hia wise providence carried back towaida him, to de- 
xive its conservatioB and perfection from the same 
fomrtaoQ from wh^aice its being did proceed. But 
now reasomdble creatures being by God enriched with 
internal knowledge, aaid that kiatowledge in his church 
exceedingly i^saiby fan manifestation of himself as 
their uttermost blessedness in the word unto them ; 
he therefore requires that we should woi^ actively^ 
and with intention of the end fer which he made ns, 
guiding aUf ovr ans' and inclinations towards his 
glory by thai interaal knowkdge of his excellency 
which he halh planted in us^ and vevealed to ue. And 
indeed all other creatures are in this sense said to 
glorify God, because the infinite powev, wisdom, good- 
ness and perfection of God which are in their beings 
£md workings so notably relucent,* do become tbe 
object cf reasonable creatures, to contemplate upon, 
and by that means draw ferth admiration and adora* 
tion aS him. 

By the consideration of God*9 goodness^ He de- 
serves it at our hands. He gives more to us than we 
are able to render untcy him., life sun shines on the 
moon with his own glorious light, the moott retuniB 
but a faint and spotted light upon the world. We 
• * Shkiing, Bpl^idid. 

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ON HOSKA XIV. — ^VER&ES 2, 3. 107 

can return nothii^ unto God, but thalt which is hb 
own, 1 Chron. xxix. 16. and it goes Bot with that 
purity from us as it came unto us. We cannot send 
foiih a thought round about us, but it will return with 
a report of mercy, and that mercy calls for a return of 
praise. But above all, the goodness of God mentioned 
in the text, *' taking away iniquity, and receiving gra^ 
ciously," this calls for the calves of the lips to be 
offered, as in the new moons, with trumpets and 
solemnity. Num. x. 10. The beams of the sun the 
more directly they fall on the body of the moon, do 
fill it with the more abundant light: so the more 
copious and notable God*« mercies are unto us, the 
more enlarged should our praises be unto him. There- 
fore true peoitents that have more tasted of mercy, are 
more obliged unto thanksgiving, Psa. cxlvii. 20. 
" Excellent speech is not comely in the mouth of 
fools," Prov. xvii. 7. But ** praise is comely for th© 
upright," Psa. xxxiii. 1. For as God is most dis? 
honoured by the sins of holy men when they are com* 
mitted against light, and break forth into scandal, as a 
spot in silk is a greater blemish than in sackcloth, 
2 Sam. xii. 14. so is he most honoured by the con- 
fession and praises of holy men, because they kaow 
more of his glory and goodness than otliers, and can 
report greater things of him. Wicked men speak of 
God by hearsay and by notion only, but holy men by 
intimate -experience : as the queen of Sheba knew, 
more of Solomon*s wisdom from his mouth than from 
liis fame. He tliat sees but ike outward court and 
3uildin^ of a palace can say it is a glorious place ; but 
lie that, like the ambassadors of the king of Babylon, 
n Hezekiah*s time, shall be admitted to see the house 
3f precious things, and all the treasures of the palace, 
jan speak much more honourably of it. Every ono 

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miglit see and admire the stones of the temple without, 
«who <was not admitted to view the gold and carious 
workmanship within. The more intimate communion 
a man hath with God as a Redeemer, the more glo- 
rious and abundant praises can he render unto him. 
Besides, praise is the language of heaven ; the whole 
happiness of the saints there is to enjoy God, and 
iheir- whole business is to praise him. And they who 
are to Bve in another country will be more solicitous 
to learn the language, and fore-acquaint themselves 
with the manners and usages of that country, than 
they who have no hopes nor assurance of coming 
thither. As they who have hope to be like Christ in 
glory will purify themselves, that they may in the 
mean time be like him in grace, 1 John iii. 2, 3. so 
tiiey that have hope to praise him for ever in heaven, 
will study the •song of Moses and of the Lamb before 
tiiey come thither. And indeed none can praise God but 
they that can abase and deny themselves ; wicked men 
in all duties serve and seek themselves. But the very 
Ibrmality of praise is to seek God, and to make him 
the end of our so doing. The apostle exhorts us '^to 
offisr ourselves a living sacrifice," Rom. xii. 1. that is 
to «ay, to separate ourselves for God and for his 
uses. The sacrifice we know was God's ; for his sake 
it was burnt, and broken, and destroyed. We must 
by such sacrifices, deny ourselves, be lost to ourselves, 
not senre, nor seek, nor aim at ourselves ; but re* 
«olve to esteem nothing dear in comparison of God's 
lionour, and to be willing any way, whether by life or 
bv death, that he may be magnified in us. Acts xxi. 13. 
Pljil. i. 20. Love of communion in natural creatures 
is stronger than self-love ; stones will move upward, 
fire downward, to preserve the universe from a vacuity, 
and to keep the system of nature together. How 

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much more is, and ought the love of God himself in 
the new creature to be stronger, than self-love whereby 
it seeks and serves itself ! And without this, all other 
services are but Ananias's lie, lies to the Holy Ghost, 
keeping to ourselves what we would seem to bestow 
upon him. Lifting up the eyes, beating the breast, 
spreading the hands, landing the knee, hanging down 
the head, levelling the countenance, sighing, sobbing, 
fasting, howling, all nothing else but. mocking of God. 
And we may say of such men, they deceive God and 
fail in his precepts, and they shall be themselves de- 
ceived, and Mi in their own expectation. For " the 
hope of the wicked shall perish." 

By a double consideration ofoursdves, 
(1.) Of our natural torpor and sluggishness unto 
tlus duty. As the Dead Sea drinks in the river Jordan 
and is never the sweeter, and the ocean all other rivers 
and is never the fresher ; so we are apt to receive 
daily mercies firom God, and still remain insensible 
of them, unthankful for them. God's mercies to us 
are like the dew on the ground, our thanks to him 
Uke the dew on the fleece. We are like fishermen's 
weels, wide at that end which lets in the fish, but nar- 
row at the other end, so that they cannot get out 
again. Greedy to get mercy, tenacious to hold it, but 
unthankful in acknowledging or right using of it. 
The rain comes down from heaven in showers, it 
goes up but in mists. We sow in our land one mea- 
sure, and receive ten, yea Isaac received a hundred- 
fold. Gen. xxvi. 12. but God sows ten, it may be a 
hundred mercies amongst us, when we scarce return 
the praise and the firuit of one. Our hearts in this 
case are like the windows of the temple, 1 Kings vi. 4. 
wide inward to let in mercies, but narrow outward to 
let forth praises. Now, as Solomon says, ** If the iron 

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be blunt, we must put to the more strength f and as 
busbandmen use where the nature of land is more de- 
fective, to supply it with the more importunate labour ; 
so having hearts so earthly for the performance of so 
heavenly a duty, we should use the more holy 
violence upon them ; and, as the widow did, extort 
justice from an unjust judge by her continual coming, 
Luke xviii. 5. we should press and urge, and with in- 
geminated* importunity charge this duty upon our- 
selves, as the psalmist doth, " O that men would 
praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderfuJ 
works to the children of men," Psa. cvii. 8. 15. 21. 3 L 

(2.) Of our own benefit. For indeed all the 
benefit which ariseth out of this duty redounds to us, 
and none to God. His glory is infinite and eternally 
the same, there is and can be no accession unto that 
by all our praises. When a glass refiecteth the bright- 
ness of the sun, there is but an acknowledgment ot 
what is, not any addition of what is not. When 
an excellent orator makes a panegyrical oration in 
praise of some honourable person, he doth not infuse 
any drachm of worth into the person, but only setteth 
forth and declareth that which is unto others. A 
curious picture praiseth a beautiful face, not by adding 
beauty to it, but by representing that which was in it 
before. The window which lets in light into a house 
doth not benefit the light, but the house into which 
the light shineth. So our praising God doth serve to ' 
quicken, comfort, and refresh ourselves, who have in- 
terest in so good a God : or to edify and encourage 
our brethren, that they may be ambitious to serve so 
honourable a Master ; but they add no lustre or glory 
to God at all. 

Now, lastly, for the right performance of this duty. 
* Redoubled. 

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ON H06EA XIV. — VERSES 3^ 3. 1 11 

It is founded on the due apprehensions of '* God's 
being good, and of his doing good/' Psa. cxix. 68. 
or on his excellency in himself, and his goodness 
unto us. In the former respect it standeth in adoring 
and extolling the great name of God, ascribing in our 
hearts and mouths blessedness unto him, acknowledg- 
ing his infinite majesty in himself, and his sovereignty 
over us his poor creatures, Exod. xv. 11. Mic. vii. 18. 
and so covering our faces, and abhorring ourselves in 
his sight, Isa. vi. 5. Job. xlii. 5, 6. not daring to ques- 
tion any of his deep, absolute, and most unsearchable 
counsels; but because all things are of him, to 
acknowledge that all things ought to be for and to 
him, and are to be reduced to the ends of his glory 
by the counsel of his own will, Rom. ix. 20, 21. 
xi. 33. 36. Matt. xi. 25, 26. Psa. cxxxv. 5, 6. Job 
ix. 12. Eph. ill. In the latter respect, as he is the 
God in whom we live, and move, and have our being, 
and hope for our blessedness ; so it importeth, First, A 
glorying and rejoicing in him as our alone felicity, 
Psa. xxxiii. 1. Hab. iii, 18. Phil. iv. 4. Second, A 
choosing and preferring him above all other good 
things, making him our end and aim, in life, in death, 
in doing, in suffering, Rom. iv. 7, 8. Third, A thank- 
ful acknowledgment of all his mercies, as most bene- 
ficial unto us, and most gratuitous and free in regard 
of him, 2 Sam. vii. 18. Lam. iii. 22, 23. Last, A 
constant endeavour of a holy life, so to bring forth 
fruit to do the will of God, and to finish his work 
which he hath set us, so to order our conversation 
aright before him, as that he may have ascribed unto 
him the glory of his authority over the consciences of 
men, and of the power of his love shed abroad in 
their hearts, and that all who see our conversation 
may say, Doubtless the God whom these men serve 

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lid THlftD SERMOlf 

after bo holy a manner, for whom they despise all out- 
ward and sinful pleasures, is a holy and blessed God, 
infinitely able to comfort, satisfy, and reward all those 
that so conscionably and constantly give themselves 
up unto him, Psa. 1. 23. Deut. iv. 6, 7. Matt. xxii. 
16. 2 Cor. ix. 13. 1 Pet. xii. 

Second. The other particular in their covenant is, 
amendment of life, and a more special care against 
those sins of carnal confidence, and spiritual adultery, 
whereby they have formerly dishonoured and pro- 
voked God. From whence there are two observations 
which offer themselves. 

I. That true repentance and sound conversion, as 
it makes a man thankful for the pardon of sin past, so 
it makes him careful against the practice of sin for 
the time to come, especially those particular sins, 
whereby he had formerly most dishonoured God, and 
defiled his own conscience. This doctrine consisteth 
of two parts which we will consider asunder. 

And first, of this care and purpose of amendment 
in general. When the poor converts who had been 
guilty of the most precious and innocent blood that 
ever was shed, began to be convinced of that horrible 
sin, and found those nails wherewith they had fastened 
the Lord of glory to a cross, pricking and piercing of 
their own hearts, with what bleeding and relenting 
affections did they mourn over him ! with what ear- 
nest importunities did they inquure after the way of 
salvation, wherein they might serve and enjoy him ! 
Never were their hands more cruel in shedding that 
blood, than their hearts were now solicitous to be 
bathed in it, to be cleansed by it, Acts ii. 37. Tlie 
poor prodigal, who is the emblem of a penitent sinner, 
when he came to himself again, or bethought himself. 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 2, 3. 113 

as the phrase is, 1 Kings viii. 47. (for we do never de- 
part from God, but we do withal forsake and lose our> 
selves, and are transported with a spiritual madness 
from our right minds,) immediately grew to a reso- 
lution of arising out of that base and brutish condition, 
and of going home to his father, and by that means 
to his senses again. So when by John's preaching of 
repentance, men were turned to the wisidom of the 
just, (for all unrighteousness is folly and madness,) 
and were prepared for the Lord, we immediately find 
what a special care they had lo be informed in the ways 
of duty, earnestly inquiring after that new course of 
obedience which they were now to walk in, Luke iii. 
10. 12. Ail true penitents are of the mind of these in 
the text, " We will not say any more," — and " What 
have I to do any more witn idols?'* ver. 8. as Ezra in 
lys penitent prayer, ** Should we now again break thy 
commandments,'' ch. ix. 14. When Christ rose from 
the dead, he died no more : and when we repent of 
sin, it must be with a repentance that must never any 
more be repented of, Rom. vi. 9. 12. 2 Cor.vii. 10. The 
time past of our life must suffice us to have wrought 
the will of the Gentiles, 1 Pet. iv. 3. 

This care arlseth from the nature of true repentance, 
which has two names usually given it ; 1. A change 
of the mind ; the heart is framed to have other and 
truer notions of sin, of grace, of heaven, of hell, of 
conscience, of salvation than it had before ; for the 
mind of wicked men being defiled, they can frame to 
themselves none but impure apprehensions of spiritual 
tilings, as a yellow eye sees every thing yellow, and a 
bitter palate tastes every thing bitter. 2. A change of 
the cares and endeavours of life. That whereas be- 
fore a man made provision for the flesh, and his study 
and care was how to satisfy the lusts of his own heart. 

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Rom. xiii. 14. what he should eat, what he should 
drink, wherewith he should be clothed. Now his care 
is how he may be saved, how he may honour and 
enjoy God, Acts ii. 37. xvi. 30. The first question in 
repentance is, '* What have I done ?" Jer. viii. 6. and 
the next question is, " What shall I do ?* Acts ix. 6, 
And this care repentance worketh, 

1. By a godly sorrow for sin past. It brings into 
a man's remembrance the history of his former life, 
makes him with heaviness of spirit recount the guilt 
of the innumerable sins wherewith he hath boimd 
himself as with chains of darkness : the loss of so 
much precious time mispent in the service of such a 
master as had no other wages to give but shame and 
death. The horrible indignities thereby offered to the 
majesty and justice of God, the odious contempt of 
his holy will and sovereign authority; the daring 
neglect of his threatenings, and undervaluing of his 
rewards ; the high provocation of his jealousy and dis- 
pleasure; the base rivalry and contesting of filthy 
lusts with the grac^ of the gospel, and the precious 
blood of the Son of God ; the gainsaying, and wrest- 
ling, and stubborn antipathy of a carnal heart to the 
pure motions of the Spirit and word of Christ ; the 
presumptuous repulses of him that standeth at the door 
and knocks, waiting that he may be gracious ; the 
long turning of his back, and thrusting away from him 
the word of reconciliation, wherein Christ by his am- 
bassadors had so often besought him to be reconciled 
unto God. The remembrance of these things makes 
a man look with self-abhorrency upon himself, and 
full detestation upon his former courses. And he 
now no longer considers the silver or the gold, tlie , 
profit or the pleasure of his wonted lusts, though they 
be ever so delectable or deairol^le in the eye of flesh. 

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ON HOSEA XIV.— VERSES 2, 3. 115 

he looks upon them as accursed things to be thrown 
away, as the converts did upon their costly and curious 
books, Acts xix. 19. Isa. xxx. 22. xxxi. 7. Sin is like 
a plaited picture : on the one side of it to the impeni- 
tent appeareth nothing but the beauty of pleasure, 
whereby it bewitcheth and allureth them ; on the other 
side, to the penitent appeareth nothing but the horrid 
and ugly face of guilt and shame, whereby it amazeth 
and confoundeth them. Thus the remembrance of sin 
past, (which they are very careful to keep always in 
their sight, Psa. li. 3.) doth by godly sorrow work 
especial care of amendment of life for the time to 
come, 2 Chron. vi. 37, 38. Psa. cxix. 59. Ezek. xvi. 
61. 63. XX. 43. 

2. By a present sense of the weight and burden of 
remaining corruptions, which work, and move, and 
put forth what strength they can to resist the grace of 
God in us. As the time past wherein sin reigned, so 
the present burden of sin besetting us, is esteemed 
sufficient, and makes a man careful not to load him- 
self wilfully with more, being ready to sink, and 
forced to cry out under the pain of those which he 
unwillingly lieth under already. A very glutton 
when he is in a fit of the gout or stone, will forbear 
those meats which feed so painful diseases. A 
penitent sinner is continually in pain under the body 
of sin, and therefore dares not feed so dangerous and 
tormenting a disease. The more spiritual any man 
is, the more painful and burdensome is corruption to 
him, Rom. vii. 22. For sin to the new man is as 
sickness to the natural man. The more exquisite and 
delicate the natural senses are, the more are they sen- 
sible and affected with that which offends nature. 
Contraries cannot be together without combat. The 
spirit will lust against the flesh, and not suffer a man 

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to fulfil the lusts of it. Gal. v. 16, 17. the seed of 
God will keep down the strength of sin, 1 John iii. 9. 

3. By a holy jealousy, and godly fear of the false- 
ness and backsliding of our corrupt heart, lest, like 
Lot's wife, it should look back towards Sodom, and 
like Israel have a mind hankering after the flesh-pots 
of Egypt, the wonted profits and pleasures of forsaken 
lusts. A godly heart prizeth the love of God, and 
the feelings of spiritual comfort from thence arising 
above all other things, and is afraid to lose them. It 
hath felt die burnings of sin, the stinging of these 
fiery serpents, and hath often been forced to befool 
itself, and to beshrew its own ignorance, and with 
Ephraim to emite upon the thigh. And the burnt 
child dreads the fire, and dares not meddle any more 
with it ; considers the heaviness of God's firown, the 
rigour of his law, the weakness and fickleness of the 
heart of man, the difficulty of finding Christ out when 
he hath withdrawn himself, and of recovering light 
and peace again when the soul hath wilfully brought 
itself under a cloud ; and therefore will not venture to 
harden itself against God. Thus godly fear keeps 
men from sin. Job xxxi. 23. Psa. cxix. 120. Prov. 
xxviii. 14. Ecc. ix. 2. Jer. xxxii. 40. Phil, il 12. 
Psa. iv. 4 

4. By a love to Christ, and a sweet recounting of 
the mercies of God in him. The less a man loves 
sin, the more he shall love Christ. Now repentance 
works a hatred of sin, and thereupon a love of Christ, 
which love is ever operative, and putting forth itself 
towards holiness of life. As the love of God in Christ 
towards us worketh forgiveness of sin : so our reci- 
procal love, wrought by the feeling and comfort of 
that forgiveness, worketh in us a hatred of sin. A 
direct love begets a reflect love, as the heat wrought 

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in the earth strikes back a heat into the air again. The 
woman in the gospel, having much forgiven her, 
loved much, Luke vii. 47. *^ We love him because 
he loved us first ;'' and love will not suffer a man to 
wrong the things which he loves. What man ever 
threw away jewels or money when he might have kept 
them ? except when the predominant love of something 
better made these things comparatively hatefiil, Luke 
xiv. 26. What woman could be persuaded to throw 
away her sucking child from her breast unto wild 
beasts to devour it ? Our love to Christ and his law 
will not suffer us to cast him off, or to throw his law 
behind our backs. New obedience is ever joined unto 
pardon of sin and repentance for it, by the method of 
God's decrees, by the order and chain of salvation, 
and ariseth out of the internal character and disposi- 
tion of a child of God. We are not sons only by 
adoption, appointed to a new inheritance ; but we are 
sons by regeneration also, partakers of a new nature, 
designed unto a new life, joined unto a new head, 
descended from a new Adam, unto whom therefore we 
are in the power of his resurrection, and in the fellow- 
ship of his sufferings to be made conformable, Phil, 
iii. 10. And the apostle hath many excellent and 
weighty arguments to enforce this upon us : *^ If ye 
then be risen with Christ, seek those things which 
are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of 
God. Set your affections on things above, not on 
things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life 
is hid with Christ in God ; 'when Christ, who is our 
life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him 
in glory," Col. iii. 1—4. 1. Our fellowship with 
Christ ; *' we are risen with him :" what he did cor- 
porally for us, he doth the same spiritually in us. As 
a Saviour and Mediator, he died and rose alone ; but 

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as a head and second Adam, he never did any thing, 
but his mystical body and seed were so taken into the 
fellowship of it, as to be made conformable unto it. 
Therefore, if he rose as a Saviour to justify us, we 
must as members be therein feshioned unto him, and 
rise spiritually by heavenly-mindedness, and a new 
life to glorify him. 2. We must have our affections 
in heaven, because Christ is there. The heart ever 
turns towards its treasure ; where the body is, thither 
will the eagles resort. 3. He is there in glory at 
God's right hand, and grace shall move to glory as a 
piece of earth to the whole. And he is there on our 
business, making intercession in our behalf, providing 
a place for us, sending down gifts unto us. And the 
client cannot but have his heart on his business, when 
the advocate is actually stirring about it. 4. We are 
dead with Christ, as to the life of sin. And a dead 
man takes no thought nor care for the things of that 
life from whence he is departed. A man naturally 
dead looks not after food, or raiment^ or land, or 
money, or labour, &c. And a man dead to sin, takes 
no more care how to provide for it. 5. In Christ we 
have a new life, therefore we should have new inclina- 
tions suitable unto it, and new provisions laid in for 
it. A natural man feeds on worldly things by sense, 
a spiritual man feeds on heavenly things by ^th 
and conscience. We can have nothing from the 
first Adam which is not mortal and mortiferous.* 
Nothing from the second which is not vital and 
eternal. AVhatever the one gives us shrinks and 
withers unto death; whatever the other, springs 
and proceeds unto immortal life. Our life therefore 
being new, the afTections that serve it, and wait upon 
it, must be new likewise. 6. This life is our own, 
* Tending to death. 

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ON HOSEA XIV.— VBRSES 2, 3. 119 

not so any thing in the world besides. I can purchase 
in the world only to me and mine heirs for ever. But 
spiritual purchases are to myself for ever. And every 
man's aifections are naturally most fixed upon that 
which is most his own. 7. It is a hidden life, the 
best of it is yet unseen, 1 John iii. 2. and though the 
cabinet which is seen be rich, yet the jewel which is 
hidden in it is much richer. As there is a sinful 
curiosity in lust, to look after the hidden things of 
iniquity, and to hanker after forbidden pleasures ; so 
there is a spiritual curiosity or ambition in grace, to 
aspire towaids hidden treasures, to press forward to- 
wards things that are before us, to be clothed upon 
with our house that is from heaven. As Absalom, being 
brought from banishment, longed to see the &ce of 
his father ; so the soul, being delivered out of darkness, 
never thinks it sees enough of light. When God did 
most intimately reveal himself unto Moses^ Moses did 
most earnestly beseech him to show him his glory, 
Exod. xxxiii. 11. 18. The more sweetness we find in 
the first fruits, in so much of Chnst as is revealed to 
us, the more strong are our affections to the whole 
harvest, to that abundance of him which is liidden 
from us. A few clusters of grapes and bunches of 
figs will inflame the desire of enjoying that Canaan 
which abounds with them. 8. It is hidden with Christ, 
so hidden as that we know where it is. Hidden so 
that the enemy cannot reach it, but not hidden 
from the Mth of the child. 9. It is hidden in 
God. It is life in the fountain, Psa. xxxvi. 9. and 
every thing is most perfect in its original and foun- 
tain. And this is such a fountain of life as hath in it 
fulness without satiety, and purity without defilement, 
and perpetuity without decay, and all-suflSciency with- 
out defect. Lastly, it is but hidden, it is not lost, 

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hidden like seed in the ground ; when Christ the Sun 
of righteousness shall appear, this life of ours in him 
will spring up, and appear glorious. 

Now next let us consider this care of repentance 
against a man's own more particular and special sins. 
'* Asshur shall not save us, we will not ride upon 
horses/' &c. Israel had heen guilty of very many 
provocations, hut when they come to covenant with 
God, and to renew their repentance, their thoughts 
and cares are most set against their canial confidence 
and spiritual adultery. Their most unfeigned detes- 
tations, their most serious resolutions were against 
these their most easily besetting sins. True repentance 
worketh indeed a general hatred of every fsiise way, 
Psa. cxix. 128. and suffereth not a man to allow him- 
self in the smallest sin. Yet as the dog in hunting the 
deer, though he drive the whole herd before him yet 
fixeth his eye and scent upon some one in particular, 
which is singled out by the dart of the huntsman ; so, 
though sound conversion works a universal hatred 
of all sin, because it is sin, (for hatred is ever against 
the whole kind of a thing,) though every member of 
the old man be mortified, and every grace of the new 
man shaped and fashioned in us: yet the severest 
exercise of that hatred is against the sins whereunto 
the conscience hath been more enslaved, and by 
which the name of God hath been most dishonoured. 
A man that hath many wounds, if there be any of 
them more deep, dangerous, or nearer any vital part 
than the other, though he will endeavour to cure 
them all, yet his chief care will be towards that. As 
the king of Syria gave command to his army to single 
out the king of Israel in the battle, 1 Kings xxii. 31. 
so doth repentance lay its batteries most against the 
highest, and strongest, and most reigning sin of the 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 2, 3. 121 

heart ; and by how much the more a man prized it be- 
fore, by so much the more doth he detest it now. They 
counted no silver nor gold too good to frame their 
idols of before ; their ear-rings shall go to make them 
a calf, Exod. xxxii. 3. but when they repent, nothing 
can be too base to compare them or to cast them unto, 
Isa. ii. 20. xxx. 22. 

The human nature is the same in all men, yet some 
faculties are more vigorous in some, and other in 
others ; some witty, others strong ; some beautiful, 
others proper ; some a quick eye, others a ready tongue ; 
some for learned, others for mechanical professions : 
as some grounds take better to some kind of grain 
than to others ; so in the new man, though all the 
graces of Christ are in some degree and proportion 
shaped in every regenerate person, yet one excels in 
one grace, another in another. Abraham in faith, 
Job in patience, Moses in meekness, David in medi- 
tation, Solomon in wisdom, Phinehas in zeal, Mary 
Magdalen in love, Paul in labour, &c. And so it is 
in the old man too. Though by nature we have all 
the members of original corruption, yet these put 
themselves forth in actual vigour differently. One 
nian is more possessed by a proud devil, another by 
an unclean one; Ahaz superstitious, Balaam ambi- 
tious, Cain envious, Korah stubborn, Esau profane, 
Ishmael a mocker, the young man a worldling. Ac- 
cording to different complexions and tempers of body, 
(by which habitual lust is excited and called forth into 
action,) or according to the differences of education, 
countries, callings, converse, and interests in the 
irorld, so men are differently assaulted with distinct 
iinds of sin, and most men have their beloved lusts, 
which they may more properly call their own, Psa. 
xviii* 28. And as this sin is usually the special bar 

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122 TiniLD SERMON 

and obstacle that keeps men from Christ, as we see 
in the example of the young man, Mark x. 22. and 
of the Jews, John v. 44. xii. 42, 43. so when Christ 
hath broken this obstacle, and obtained the throne iu 
a man's heart, then the chief work of repentance is to 
keep this sin from gathering strength again ; for as 
they say of some kind of serpents, that being cut in 
pieces the parts will wriggle towards one another, 
and close and get life again, so of all sins a man is in 
most danger of the reviving of his own proper cor- 
ruption ; as being like the nettle, whose roots are so 
crooked, so catching to the ground, that it is a work 
of much care to keep the ground clean of them after 
they are weeded out. 

And therefore repentance sets itself particularly 
against that sin, as a special argument of sincerity. 
" I was upright," saith David, " before him, and kept 
myself from mine, iniquity,'* Psa. xviii. 23. And, 
" He that is begotten of God," saith the apostle, 
" keepeth himself," 1 John v. 18. which he doth 
certainly with most vigilance there where he is most in 
danger of being assaulted. See in David ; he had in 
that great and scandalous fall of his stained his 
conscience with impure lust, >vith the guilt of blood 
and that not out of ignorance or common in- 
firmity, or sudden passion and surprisal of some hasty 
temptation, (which might happily have consisted 
with uprightness,) but seriously and deliberately, 
using many cunning arts, and carnal shifts of sinful 
wisdom to colour and daub it over : and, lastly, by 
this means had given a great blow to the holy name of 
God, and caused his enemies to blaspheme, as Nathan 
tells him, 2 Sam. xii. 14. Therefore in his peniten- 
tial psalm these four things he principally insists upon; 
a clean heart, pardon of blood-guiltiness, truth in the 

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ON H08EA XIV. — VERSES 2, 3. )23 

inward parts, and occasion to teach transgressors the 
way of God, that they may be converted, Psa. li. 6, 7. 
10. 13, 14. See it in Zaccheus ; worldliness and de- 
frauding had been his sin, restitution and liberality 
are the evidences of his repentance especially for 
that sin, Luke xix. 8. So Mary Magdalen ;* her sin 
had been uncleanness, her eyes vessels and &ctors for 
adultery, her hair a net plaited and spread to catch 
sinners. She remembered her wanton kisses, her 
provoking perfumes; and now in her conversion 
where her sin had been most prevalent, there her sor- 
row was most penitent, and her repentance most 
vigilant ; her eyes vessels of tears, her kisses humbled, 
or rather advanced unto the feet of Christ ; her hair 
a towel to wipe off those tears which she judged too 
unclean for so holy feet to be washed withal ; her 
ohitment poured out upon a new lover who had 
anointed her with his grace, Luke vii. 37, 38. The sin 
of the jailer against Paul and Silas was cruelty, Acts 
xvi. 24. and the first fruit of his repentance was 
courtesy to them ; he brought them out of a dungeon 
into his own house; from the stocks to his table; 
became a host instead of a jailer, a surgeon instead 
of a tormentor, and washed their stripes, ver. 30. 
33, 34. This was Daniel's piethod oi working re* 
pentance in Nebuchadnezzar, persuading a proud, 
oppressing tyrant unto justice and mercy, Dan. iv. 27. 
and Paul unto Felix, preaching before a corrupt and 
lascivious judge of righteousness, temperance, and 
judgment to come. Acts xxiv. 25. and to the learned 
and superstitious philosophers, in a learned discovery, 
and making known unto them their unknown God, 
Acts xvii. 23. So John, the preacher of repentance, 

♦ Many modem commentators think that there is no ground 
to suppose that Mary Magdalen was an immoral character. 

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laid his axe to the root of eveiy tree, to the radical 
and prevailing hist in every order of men ; to extor- 
tion in the publican, and to covetousness in the peo- 
ple, to violence in the soldiers, to carnal confidence in 
the pharisees, Matt iii. 7. Luke iii. 9 — 14. and so 
Christ to the young man, " One thing thou wantest,** 
Markx. 21. and to the woman of Samaria, " Go caJl 
thy husband," John iv. 16. when indeed he was an 
adulterer and not a husband. 

The reason of this care of repentance is : 
(1.) Because in godly sorrow the sin hath lain most 
heavy upon the conscience. Hereby God hath been 
most of all despised and dishonoured ; our consciences 
most wasted and defiled ; our hearts most hardened ; 
our affections most bewitched and entangled. It hath 
been a master sin, that hath been able to command 
and to draw in many other servile lusts to wait upon 
it. Many wounds, even after they have been healed, 
will against change of weather affect the part wherein 
they were with pain and aching ; and therefore men 
usually are more tender of that part, keep it warmer, 
fence it with furs and clothes; as the apostle saith, 
that on our dishonourable parts we bestow the more 
abundant honour, so on such an infirm and tender 
part we bestow the more abundant care ; and the like 
do we in those wounds of the soul which are most apt 
to bleed afresh. 

(2.) Hereby, as we said before, we testify our up- 
rightness. When we will not spare our beloved sm, 
nor roll it under our tongue, nor hide it in our tent, 
when we will not mufHe nor disguise ourselves like 
Tamar, nor hide amongst the bushes and trees like 
Adam, or in the sides of the ship with Jonah ; nor 
spare any wedge of gold with Achan, or any delicate 
Agag, any fatUng sins with Saul ; but with David will 

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show that we hate every false way, by throwing the 
first stone at our first sin, that which lay nearest and 
closest in our bosoms, which the scripture calls 
cutting off the right hand, and plucking out the 
right eye. As Cranmer put that hand first into the 
fire which had before subscribed to save his life. The 
story of the Turkish emperor is commonly known, 
who being reported so to dote on one of his concu- 
bines, as for love of her to neglect the affairs of his 
kingdom, caused her to be brought forth in great 
pomp, and cut off her head before his bashaws, to 
assure them that nothing was so dear unto him but 
that he could willingly part from it to attend the 
public welfare. This was an act of cruelty in him ; 
but the like is an act of penitency in us when we can 
sacrifice the dearest affections wherewith we served 
sin. Let Christ kill our Agag, though delicately ap- 
parelled, and divide the richest of all our spoils, if 
we be learned, we shall direct all our studies unto the 
fear of God, Ecc. xii. 1 2, 13. if rich, we shall lay up 
a foundation of good works against the time to come, 
and consecrate our merchandise as holy to the Lord, 
1 Tim. vi. 18. Isa. xxiii. 18. If wise, if honourable, 
if powerful, if adorned with any endowment, our 
business will be with iSezaieel and Alohiab, to adorn 
the gospel mth them all, from our gold to our goat's 
hair, to lay out all upon the sanctuary ; to make those 
members and abilities which had been Satan's armour 
and weapons of unhoUness to be now weapons of 
holiness, and dedicated unto Christ, Rom. vi. 19. This 
is the holy revenge which godly sorrow taketh upon 
sin, y Cor.vii. 11. 

If any men who profess repentance, and think they 
are already long ago converted unto God, would ex- 
amine the truth of their conversion by this touchstone, 
^ l3 

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it would minister matter of much humiliation and fear 
unto them, when their own heart would reply against 
them as Samuel against Saul. Hast thou indeed, as 
thou professest, done the work of the Lord in destroy- 
ing Amalek ; ^* What then meaneth the bleating of 
the sheep, and the lowing of the oxen in mine ears?" 
What mean these worldly and covetous practices? 
these lascivious or revengeful speeches ? these earthly, 
sensual, or ambitious lusts ? are these Agags spared 
and kept delicately ? and canst thou please thyself in 
the thoughts of a sound repentance ? Did Paul fear 
that God would humble him for those who had not 
repented amongst the Corinthians by this argument, 
because he should find envyings, strifes, and debates 
amongst them? 2 Cor. xii. 20, 21. And wilt thou 
presume on thy repentance, and not be humbled, when 
thou findest the same things in thyself? Hast thou 
never yet proclaimed defiance to thy beloved sin, 
made it the mark of thy greatest sorrows, of thy 
strongest prayers and complaints unto God? Hast 
thou never stirred up a holy indignation and 
revenge against it, and above all things taken off 
thy thoughts from the meditation and love of it, and 
found pleasure in the holy severity of God's book and 
the ministry thereof against it^ made no covenant 
with thine eye, put no knife to thy throat, set no door 
before thy lips, made no friends of unrighteous mam- 
mon? Dost thou still retain hankering affections 
after thy wonted delights, as Lot's wife after Sodom ? 
and are the flesh-pots of Egyj)t desirable in thy 
thoughts still? " Be not high-minded, but fear." 
There is no greater argument of an unsound repent- 
ance than indulgent thoughts, and reserved delight 
and complacency in a master sin. The devil will 
diligently observe and hastily catch one kind glance 

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ON HOBEA XIV. — VERSES 3, 3. 127 

of this nature, (as Benhadad's servants did, 1 Kings 
XX. 33.) and make use of it to do us mischief. David 
had been free from some of his greatest troubles if he 
had not relented towards Absalom, and called him 
home from banishment. He no sooner kissed Absa- 
lom, but Absalom courted and kissed the people to 
steal their hearts away from him. As there are in 
points of faith fundamental articles, so there are in 
points of practice iundamental duties. And amongst 
them none more primary and essential unto true 
christians than self-denial, Matt. xvi. 24. and this is 
one special part and branch of self-denial, to keep 
ourselves from our own iniquity ; and to say to our 
most costly and darling lusts, get ye hence ; Asshur 
away, idols away ; I will rather be fatherless than rely 
upon such helpers. 

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There remaineth the second point formerly men- 
tioned, from the promise or covenant, which Israel 
here makes, which I will briefly touch, and so pro- 
ceed unto the fourth verse ; and that is this : 

II. That true repentance and conversion taketh off 
the heart from all carnal confidence, either in pre- 
parations of our own ; " We will not ride upon 
horses :" or in foreign aid from any confederates, 
especially enemies of God and his church, though 
otherwise ever so potent ; *' Asshur shall not save 
us :" or, lastly, in any superstitious and corrupt worship, 
which sends us to God the wrong way ; " We will not 
say any more to the work of our hands. Ye are our 
gods :" and causeth the soul in all conditions, be they 
ever so desperate, so desolate, so incurable, to rely 
only upon God. It is very much in the nature of 
fallen man to affect an absoluteness, and a self-suffi- 
ciency, to seek the good that he desireth within him- 
self, and to derive from himself the strength whereby 
he would repel any evil which he feareth. This stay- 
ing within itself, reflecting upon its own power and 
wisdom, and by consequence affecting an indepen- 
dency upon any superior virtue in being and workmg, 

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making itself the first cause and the last end of its 
own motions ; is by divines conceived to have been 
the first sin by which the creature fell from God ; and 
it was the first temptation by which Satan prevailed 
to draw man from God too. For since, next unto 
God, every reasonable created being is nearest unto 
itself, we cannot conceive how it should turn from 
God, and not in the next step turn unto itself, and by 
consequence, whatsoever it was in a regular depend- 
ence to have derived from God, being fallen from 
him, it doth by an irregular dependence seek for from 
itself. Hence it is that men of power are apt to deify 
their own strength, and to frame opinions oi absolute- 
ness to themselves, and to deride the thoughts of any 
power above them ; as Pharaoh, Exod. v. 2. and Go- 
liath, 1 Sam. xvii. 8. 10. 44. and Nebuchadnezzar, 
Dan. iii. 15. and Sennacherib, 2Kingsxviii. 33 — 35. 
Isa. X. 8—11. 13, 14. And men of wisdom to defy 
their own reason, and to deride anything that is above 
or against their own conceptions; asTyrus, £zek. 
xxviii. 2. 6. and the pharisees, Luke xvi. 14. John 
vii. 48, 49. 52. Acts iv. 11. Isa. xlix, 7. liii. 3. and 
the philosophers. Acts xvii. 18. 32. 1 Cor. i. 22, 23, 
And men of morality and virtue to deify their own 
righteousness, to rely on their own merits and per- 
formances, and to deride righteousness imputed and 
precarious ;* as tlie Jews, Rom. x. 5. and Paul before 
his conversion, Rom. vii. 9. Phil. iii. 6. 9. so natural 
is it for a sinful creature, who seeketh only himself, 
and maketh himself the last end, to seek only unto 
himself, and to make himself the first cause and mover 
towards that end. 

But because God will not give his glory to another, 
Qor suffer any creature to encroach upon his prerogative, 
* Dependent. 

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or to sit down in tliis throne, he hath therefore 
always blasted the policies and attempts of such as 
aspired unto such an absoluteness and independency, 
making them know in the end that they are but 
men, Psa. ix. 19, 20. and that the Most High ruleth 
over all : and that it is an enterprise more full of folly 
than it is of pride for any creature to work its own 
safety and felicity out of itself. And as men usually 
are most vigilant upon their immediate interests, and 
most jealous and active against all encroachments 
thereupon ; so we shall ever find that God doth single 
out no men to be such notable monuments of his 
justice and their own ruin and folly, as those who 
have vied with him in the points of power, wisdom, 
and other divine prerogatives, aspiring unto that abso- 
hiteness, self-sufficiency, self-interest, and indepen- 
dency which belongeth only unto him. And as he 
hath by the destruction of Pharaoh, Sennacherib, 
Herod, and divers others, taught us tkie madness of 
this ambition ; so doth he by our own daily preserva- 
tion teach us the same. For if God have appointed 
that we should go out of ourselves unto a thing below 
for a vital subsistence, to bread for food, to house for 
harbour, to clothes for warmth, &c. much more hath 
he appointed that we should go out of ourselves for a 
blessed and happy subsistence, by how much the more 
is required unto blessedness than unto life, and by how 
much the greater is our impotency unto the greatest 
and highest end. 

Yet so desperate is the aversion of sinful man from 
God, that when he is convinced of his impotency, and 
driven off from self-dependence, and reduced unto 
such extremities as should in reason lead him back 
unto God, yet when he hath no horses of his own to 
ride upon, no means of his own to escape evil, yet still 

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ON H08EA XIV. — ^VERSES 3, 4 131 

he will betake himself unto creatures like himself, 
though they be enemies unto God, and enemies unto 
him too for God's sake, (for so was the Assyrian unto 
Israel,) yet, " If Ephraim see his sickness, and Judah 
his wound, Ephraim will go to the Assyrian and king 
Jareb for help," Hos. v. 13. If he must beg, he would 
rather do it of an enemy than a God, yea, though he 
dissuade him from it and tlireaten him for it. Ahaz 
would not believe though a sign were offered liim, nor 
be persuaded to trust in God to deliver him from Rezin 
and Pekah, though he promise him to do it ; but under 
pretence of not tempting God in the use of means, 
will weary God with his provocation, and rob God to 
pay the Assyrian, " who was not a help, but a distress 
unto him," 2 Kings xvi. 5. 8. 17, 18. 2 Chron. xxviii. 
20, 21. Isa. vii. 8. 13. xxx. 5. 

Well, God is many times pleased to way-lay human 
counsels, even in this case too, and so to strip them 
not only of their own provisions, but of their foreign 
succours and supplies, as that they have no refuge left 
but unto him. Their horses fail them, their Assyrian 
&ils them, Hos. vii. 11, 12. viii. 9, 10. Their hope hath 
nothing either really good to comfort them at home, 
or as matter of help and aid to support them from 
abroad. They are brought as Israel into a wilderness 
where they are constrained to go to God, because they 
have no second causes to help them. And yet even 
here wicked men will make a shift to keep oflF from 
God, when they have nothing in the world to turn 
unto. This is the formal and intimate malignity of 
sin to decline God, and to be impatient of him in his 
own way. If wicked men be necessitated to implore 
help from God, they will invent ways of their own to 
do it. If horses fail, and Asshur fail, and Israel must 
go to God whether he will or not, it shall not be to 

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the God that made him, but to a god of his own 
making ; and when they have most need of their 
glory, they will '* change it into that which cannot 
profit,'' Jer. ii. 11. So foolish was Jeroboam, as by 
two calves at Dan and Bethel to think his kingdom 
should be established, and by that means rooted out 
his own family, and at last ruined the kingdom, 
I Kings xii. 28, 29. xiv. 10. 15. 29. 2 Kings xvii. 
21. 23. Hos. viii. 4, 5. x. 5. 8. 15. So foolish was 
Ahaz, as to seek help of those gods which were the 
ruin of him and all Israel, 2 Chron. xxviii. 23. Such 
a strong antipathy and averseness there is in the soul 
of natural men unto God, as that when they are in 
distress they go to him last of all ; they never think 
of him so long as their own strength and their foreign 
confederacies hold out ; and when at last they are 
driven to him, they know not how to hold communion 
with him in his own way, but frame carnal and super- 
stitious ways of worship to themselves, and so in tneir 
very seeking unto him do provoke him to forsake 
them; and the very things whereon they lean go 
up into their hand to pierce it, Isa. xv. 2. xvi. 12. 
1 Kings xviii. 26. 

Now then the proper work of true repentance being 
to turn a man the right way unto God, it taketh a man 
off from all this carnal and superstitious confidence, 
and directeth the soul in the greatest difficulties to 
cast itself with comfort and confidence upon God 
alone. So it is prophesied of the remnant of God's 
people, that is, the penitent part of them, ^for the 
remnant are those that came up " with weepmg and 
supplication, seeking the Lord their God, and asking 
the way to Sion with their faces thitherward," Jer. 
xxxi. 7. 9. 1. 4, 5.) that they should " no more again 
stay themselves upon Iwa that smote them, but should 

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ON HOSEA XIY. — VERGES 3, 4. 133 

Stay upon the Lord, itie Holy One of Israel in truth, 
and should return unto the mighty God," Isa. x. 20, 21 . 
They resolve the Lord shall save them, and not the 
Assyrian. So say the godly in the psalmist, " A 
house is a vain thing for safety, neither shall he deliver 
any by his great strength/' &c. '* Our soul waiteth 
for the Lord, he is our help and shield," Psa. xxxiii. 
17. 20. They will not say any more, *' We will fly 
upon horses, we will ride upon the swift," Isa. xxx. 16. 
Lastly, " At that day," saith the prophet, speaking of 
the penitent remnant and gleanings of Jacob, ** shall 
a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have re- 
spect to the Holy One of Israel ; and he shall not 
look to the altars the work of his hands, neither shall 
respect that which his fingers have made, the groves 
or the images," Isa. xvii. 7, 8. And again, " Truly 
in vain is salvation hoped for from the hills, and from 
the multitude of mountains," that is, from the idols 
which they had set up and worshipped in high places, 
" Truly in the Lord our God is the salvation of 
Israel, Jer. iii. 23, They will not say any more to 
the work of their hands, ** Ye are our gods." 
So then, the plain duties of the text are these : 

1. To trust in God who is all- sufficient to help, 
who is Jehovah, the fountain of being, and can give 
being to any promise, to any mercy which he intends 
for his people, cannot only work, but command ; not 
only command, but create deliverance, and fetch it 
out of darkness and desolation. He hath everlasting 
strength ; there is no time, no case, no condition, 
wherein his help is not at hand, whenever he shall 
command it, Isa. xxvi. 4. 

2. We must not trust in any creature. 

(1.) Not in Asshur, in any confederacy or combi- 
nation with God's enemies, be they otherwise ever so 

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potent. Jehoshaphat did so, and his ships were 
broken, 2 Cliron. xx. 35. 37. Ahaz did so, and his 
people were distressed, 2 Chron. xxviii. 21. It is 
impossible for God's enemies to be cordial to God's 
people, so long as they continue cordial to their God. 
There is such an irreconcilable enmity between the 
Seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent, that it 
is incredible to suppose that the enemies of the church 
will do any thing which may in itself tend to the good 
of it, or that any end and design by them pursued can 
be severed from their own malignant interest. Let 
white be mingled with any colour which is not itself, 
and it loseth of its own beauty. It is not possible for 
God's people to join with any that are his enemies, 
and not lose of their own purity thereby. He must 
be as wise and as potent as God who can use the rage 
of God's enemies, and convert it when he hath done 
to the good of God's church, and the glory of God's 
name, and be able at pleasure to restrain and call it 
in again. We must ever take heed of this dangerous 
competition between our own interests and God's to 
be so tender and intent upon that, as to hazard and 
shake this. Jeroboam did so, but it was fatal to him 
and to all Israel. The end of Judah's combining with 
the Assyrian, was that they might rejoice against 
Rezin and Remaliah's son : but the consequence of it, 
which they never intended, was, that the Assyrian came 
over all the cliannels, and over all the banks, and over- 
flowed, and went over, and reached to the very neck, 
and if it had not been Immanuel's land, would have 
endangered it to the drowning of it, Isa. viii. 6 — 8. 
If Israel for his own ends join with Asshur, it will 
hardly be possible for him in so doing, though against 
his own will, not to promote the ends of Asshur against 
God's church and against himself too. And yet the 

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prophet would not have in that case God's people to 
he dismayed, or to say, A confederacy, a confederacy, 
but to sanctify the Lord himself, and make him their 
fear and their dread, who will certainly be a sanctuary 
unto them, and will bind up his testimony, and seal the 
law amongst his disciples, when others shall stumble 
and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. 
If we preserve Imraanuers right in us, and ours in 
him, all confederacies against us shaU be broken, all 
counsels shall come to nought 

(2.) Not in horses, or in any other human pre- 
parations and provisions of our own. *' Some trust 
m chariots, and some in horses, but we,^ saith David, 
*• will remember the name of the Lord our God," Psa. 
}cx. 7. That name can do more with a sling and a 
stone, than Goliath with all his armour, 1 Sam. 
xvii. 45. it is a strong tower for protection and safety 
to all that % unto it, Prov. xviii. 10. Whereas horses, 
though they be prepared against the day of battle, 
yet safety cometh only from the Lord, Prov. xxi. 31, 
*' Horses are flesh and not spirit, and their riders are 
men and not God, and cursed are they that make flesh 
their arm, and depart from the Lord," Isa. xxxi. 1 — 3« 
Jer. xvii. 5. No, not in variety of means and ways 
of help, which seemeth to be intimated in the word 
riding, from one confederate unto another: if Asshur 
foil, I will post to Egypt; if one friend or counsel fail, 
I will make haste to' another, a sin very frequently 
charged upon Israel, Hos. vii. 11. Isa. xx. 5. Ivii. 10. 
Jer. ii. 36, 37. These are not to be trusted in. 1. Be- 
cause of the intrinsical weakness and defect of ability 
in the creature to help ; every man is a liar, eitlier by 
imposture, and so in purpose, or by impotency, and 
so in the event, deceiving those who rely upon him, 
Psa. Lxii. 9. 3. Because of ignorance and defect of 

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136 FOUAT^I^imoN 

wisdom in us to apply that strength which is in the 
creature unto the best advantage. None but an artificer 
can turn and govern the natural efficacy of fire, wind, 
water, unto the works of art. The wisdom whereby 
we should direct created virtues unto human ends, is 
not in, or of ourselves, but it comes from God, James 
i. 5. Isa. xxviii. 86. 29. £xod. xxxvi. 1, 2. £cc. 
vii. 24. ix. 1. 11. 

(3.) Nor in idols, nor in corrupting the worship of 
God. Idols are lies, and teachers of lies, and pro- 
misers of lies to all that trust in them, Jer. x. 8. 
14 — 16. Hab. ii. 18. Rev. xxii. 15. an idol is just 
nothing in the world, 1 Cor. viii. 4. and that which is 
nothing can do nothing for those who rely upon it. 
Whatever thing a man trusteth in, in time of trouble, 
must needs have these things in it to ground that con- 
fidence upon. 

A knowledge of him and his wants ; therefore wq 
are bid to trust in God's providence over us for al 
outward good things, because he knoweth that we 
have need of them. Matt. iv. 32. 

A loving and merciful disposition to help him. A 
man may sometimes receive help from such as love 
him not, out of policy and in pursuance of other ends 
and intents ; but he cannot confidently rely upon any 
aid which is not first founded in love. I ever suspect 
and fear the gifts and succours which proceed from an 
enemy; they wiU have their own ends only, even 
then when they seem to tender and serve me ; there- 
fore David singleth out God's mercy as the object of 
Ids trust, Psa. lii. 8. 

A manifestation of that love in some promise or 
other engaging unto assistance. For how can I with 
assurance and without hesitancy expect help there^ 
where I never received any promise of it ? here was 

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the ground of David's, Jebosliaphat's, Daniel's trust 
in God, the word and promise which he had passed 
unto them, 1 Chron. xvii. 25, 27. 2 Chron. xx. 7, 8. 
Dan. ix. 2, 3. 

Truth andjidelity in the care to make these pro- 
mises good ; this is that which makes us so confidently 
trust in God's promises, because we know they are aU 
yea and amen, that it is impossible for God to lie, or 
deceive, or for any to seek his face in vain, 2 Cor. 
i. 20. Josh. xxi. 45. Heb. vi. 18. Isa. xlv. 19. 

Power to ffive being and put into act whatsoever 
is thus promised. That which a man leans upon must 
have strength to bear the weight which is laid upon 
it. This is the great ground of our trusting in God at 
all times, even then when all other helps fail ; because 
he is I AM, who can create and give a being to every 
thing which he hath promised, because power be- 
longeth unto him, and in the Lord Jehovah is ever- 
lasting strength, and nothing is too hard, no help too 
great for him who made heaven and earth, and can 
command all the creatures which he made to serve 
those whom he is pleased to help, Psa. Ixii. 8. 11. 
Exod. iii. 14. Isa. xxvi. 4. Gen. xviii. 14. Jer. 
xxxii. 17. Psa. cxxi. 2. Rom. v. 19. 21. Matt. viii. 2. 
Now whosoever seeks for any of these grounds of trust 
in idols shall be sure to fail of them. Knowledge they 
have none, Isa. xliv. 9. and therefore love they have 
none ; for how can that love any thing which knows 
nothing ? Truth they have none, neither of being in 
themselves, nor of promise to those that trust in them ; 
the very form of an idol is to be a lie, to stand for 
that which it is not, and to present that which it is 
most unlike, Isa. xliv. 20. xl. 18. Jer. x. 14 — 16. 
and power they have none either to hear or save, 
Isa. xlv. 20. xlvi. 7. xli. 23, 24. 28, 29. And therefore 

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138 FOURTH SfiltMON 

that repentance which shaketh off confidence in 
idols, doth not only convert a man unto God, but unto 
himself; it is not only an impious, but a sottish thing, 
and below the reason of a man first to make a thing 
and then to worship it, to expect safety from that which 
did receive being from himself, Isa. xlvi. 6, 7. These 
are the three great props of carnal confidence, foreign 
interests, domestic treasures, superstitious devotions ; 
when men please themselves in the children of 
strangers, and have their land full of silver and gold, 
and treasures, full of horses and chariots, and iidl of 
idols ; hoard up provisions* and preparations of their 
own, comply with the enemies of God abroad, and 
corrupt the worship of God at home, Isa. ii. 6 — 8. 
These are the things for which God threateneth ter- 
ribly to shake the earth, and to bring down, and to 
make low the loftiness of man, if he do not (as 
Ephraim here by long and sad experience doth) peni- 
tently renounce and abjure them all. 

And now this is matter for which all of us may be 
humbled. There is no sin more usual amongst men 
than carnal confidence, to lean on our own wisdom, 
or wealth, or power, or supplies from others ; to deify 
counsels, and armies, or horses, and treasures, and to 
let our hearts rise or fall, sink or bear up within us, 
according as the creature is helpful or useless, nearer 
or farther from us : as if God were not a God afar off 
as well as near at hand. This we may justly fear God 
has visited, and still will visit us for, because we do not 
sanctify the Lord of hosts himself in our hearts, to 
make him our fear and our defence, and that he will 
blow upon all such counsels and preparations as carnal 
confidence doth deify. 

Therefore we must be exhorted to take off our hopes 
and fears from second causes, not to glory in an arm 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 3, 4. 139 

of flesh, or to droop when that fails us ; not to say in 
our prosperity, Our mountain is so strong that we shall 
not be shaken, nor in our sufferings that our wound 
is incurable, or our grave so deep that we shall never 
be raised again. But to make the name of the Lord 
our strong tower ; for they who know his name will 
trust in him ; and for direction herein we must learn 
to trust in God. 

[1.] Absolutely and for himself, because he only 
ibsolute and of himself. Other things as they have 
their being, so have they their working and power of 
doing good or evil only from him. Matt. iv. 4. John 
xix. 11. And therefore till he take himself away, 
though he take all other things away from us, we 
have matter of encouragement and rejoicing in the 
Lord still, as David and Habakkuk resolve, 1 Sam. 
XXX. 6. Hab. iii. 17, 18. All the world cannot take 
away any promise from any servant of God, and there 
is more reality in the least promise of God than in the 
greatest performance of the creature. 

[2.] To trust him in the way of his commandments, 
not in any precipices or presumptions of our own : 
" Trust in him and do good," Psa. xxxvii. 3, First 
fear him, and then trust in him ; he is a help and 
shield only unto such, Psa. cxv. 11. It is high inso- 
lence for any man to lean upon God without his leave, 
and he alloweth none to do it but such as fear him, 
and obey the voice of his servants, Isa. 1. 10. 

is.] To trust him in the way of his providence ; 
the use of such means as he hath sanctified and 
appointed. Though man liveth not by bread alone, but 
by the word of blessing which proceedeth out of the 
mouth of God ; yet that word is by God annexed to 
bread and not to stones ; and that man would not trust 
God, but mock and tempt him, who should expect to 

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have stones turned unto bread. If God bath provided 
stairs, it is not &itb but fury, not confidence but mad- 
ness, to go down by a precipice ; where God pre- 
scribes means and affords secondary helps, we must 
obey his order and implore his blessing in the use of 
them. This was Nehemiah's way, he prayed to God, 
and he petitioned the king, Neh. ii. 4. This was 
Esther's way, a fast to call upon God, and a feast to 
obtain favour with the king. Est. iv. 16. v. 4. This 
was Jacob's way, a supplication to God, and a present 
to his brother. Gen. xxxii. 9. 13. This was bavid*s 
way against Goliath, the name of the Lord his trust, 
and yet a sling and a stone his weapon, 1 Sam. xvii. 
45. 49. This was Gideon s way against the Midian- 
ites, his sword must go along with the sword of the 
Lord, not as an addition of strength, but as a testi- 
mony of obedience, Jud. vii. 18. Prayer is called 
sometimes a lifting up of the voice, sometimes a lift- 
ing up of the hands, to teach us, that when we pray 
to God we must as well have a hand to work as a 
tongue to beg. In a word, we must use second causes 
in obedience to God's order, not in confidence of their 
help ; the creature must be the object of our dOigence^ 
but Gkxi only the object of oiu: trust. 

We will now consider the ground of the church's 
prayer and promise, from which we learn, that the 
way unto mercy is to be in ourselves fatherless. •' The 
poor," saith David, **• committeth himself unto thee, 
thou art the helper of the fatherless," Psa. x. 14. 
cxlvi. 9. When Jehoshaphat knew not what to do, then 
was a fit time to direct his eye unto God, 2 Chron. 
XX. 19. When the stones of Sion are in the dust, 
then is the fittest time for God to favour her, Psa. 
cii. 13. When Israel was under heavy bondage, and 

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ON HOSEA Xrv. — ^fERSES 3, 4. 141 

had not Joseph as a tender father (as he is called. 
Gen. xli. 43.) to provide for them, then God remem- 
bered that he was their Father, and Israel his first- 
born, Exod. iv. 22« nothing will make us seek for 
help above ourselves, but the apprehension of weak- 
ness within ourselves. Those creatures that are 
weakest, nature hath put an aptitude and inclination 
in them to depend upon those that are stronger. The 
vine, the ivy, the hop, the woodbine, are taught by 
nature to clasp and cling and wind about stronger 
trees. The greater sense we have of our own vile- 
ness, the fitter disposition are we in to rely on God, 
*' I will leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor 
people, and they shall trust in the name of the Lord,** 
Zeph. iii. 12. Isa. xiv. 32. "When a man is proud 
within, and hath anything of his own to lean upon, he 
will hardly tell how to trust in God, Prov. iii. 5. 
xxviii. 25. Israel never thought of returning to her 
first husband, till her way was hedged up with thorns, 
and no means left to enjoy her former lovers, Hos. ii. 
6, 7. When the enemy should have shut up and in- 
tercepted all her passages to Dan and Bethel, to 
Egypt and Assyria, that she hath neither friends nor 
idols to fly to, then she would think of returning to 
her first husband, namely, to God again. 

Now from hence we learn : 

I. The condition of the church in this world, which 
is to be as an orphan, destitute of all succour and 
favour, as an outcast whom no man looketh after, 
Jer. XXX. 17. Paul had low thoughts of the world, and 
the world thought as basely of him. " The world," 
saith he, ** is crucified unto me, and I unto the 
world," Gal. vi. 14. Before conversion the world is 
an Egypt unto us, a place of bondage ; after conversion 

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it is a wildecnesB unto us, a place of emptiness and 

II. The backwardness of man towards grace ; we 
go not to God till we are brought to extremities and 
all other helps fail us. Tlie poor prodigal never thought 
of looking after a father, till he found himself in a 
fatherless condition, and utterly destitute of all relief, 
Luke XV. 17, 18. 

III. The right disposition and preparation unto 
mercy, which is to be an orphan, destitute of all self- 
confidence, and broken off from all other comforts. 
" When the poor and needy seek water, and there 
is none, I the Lord will hear them," Isa. xli. 17. God 
will ** repent for his people when he seeth that their 
power is gone,'* Deut. x^xii. 36. when there is an ex- 
tremity fit for divine power to interpose. Christ is 
set forth as a physician, which supposeth sickness ; as 
a fountain, which supposeth uncleanness ; as meat, 
which supposeth emptiness ; as clothing, which sup- 
poseth nakedness. He never finds us till we are lost 
sheep ; when we have lost all, then we are fit to follow 
him, and not before. 

IV. The roots of true repentance. The sense of 
want and emptiness in ourselves, the apprehension of 
feivour and mercy in God. Conviction of sin in us, 
and of righteousness in him, John xvi. 9, 10. Of 
crookedness in us, and of glory in him, Isa. xl. 4, 5. 

Hereby room is made for the entertainment of 
mercy ; where sin abounds, grace will more abound ; 
and the more the soul finds itself exceedingly miser- 
able, the more will the mercy of God appear exceed- 
ingly merciful, Rom. v. 20. and hereby God showeth 
his wisdom in the seasonable dispensing of mercy then 
when we are in the greatest extremity, as fire is hottest 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 3, 4. 143 

in the coldest weather. Gocl deh'ghts to be seen in 
the mount, at the grave, to have his way in the sea, 
and his paths in the deep waters. Mercies are never 
so sweet 'as when they are seasonable, and never so 
seasonable as in the very turning and critical point, 
when misery weighs down, and nothing but mercy 
turns the scale. 

This teacheth us how to fit ourselves for the mercy 
of God, namely, to find ourselves destitute of all in- 
ward or outward comforts, and to seek for it only 
there ; beggars do not put on scarlet but rags to pre- 
vail with men for relief ; as Benhadad's servants put 
on ropes when they would beg mercy of the king of 
Israel. In a shipwreck a man will not load him with 
money, chains, treasure, rich apparel ; but commit 
himself to the sea naked, and esteem it mercy enough 
to have one poor plank to carry him to the shore. It 
is not exaltation enough unto Joseph, except he be 
taken out of a prison unto honour. 

Neither should we be broken with diffidence or 
distrust in times of trouble, but remember it is the 
condition of the church to be an orphan. It is the 
way whereby Moses came to be the son of Pharaoh's 
daughter ; when his own parents durst not own him, 
the mercy of a princess found him out to advance him ; 
and when he was nearest unto perishing, he was nearest 
unto honour. In the civil law we find provision made 
for such as were cast out, and exposed to the wide 
world, some hospitals to entertain them, some liberties 
to comfort and compensate their trouble. And a like 
care we find in Christ : the Jews had no sooner cast 
out the man that was born blind, whose parents durst 
not be seen in his cause for fear of the like usage, 
the mercy of Christ presently found him and bestowed 
comfort upon him, John ix. 35. Tliis is the true 

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David, unto whom all helpless persons that are in dis- 
tress, in debt, in bitterness of soul, may resort and 
find entertainment, 1 Sam. xxii. 2. 

Lastly, we should learn to behave ourselves as 
pupils under such a Guardian, to be sensible of our 
infancy, minority, inability to order or direct our own 
ways, and so deny ourselves, and not lean on our own 
wisdom ; to be sensible how this condition exposeth 
us to the injuries of strangers, *' for because we are 
called out of the world, therefore the world hateth us,'* 
and so to be vigilant over our ways, and not trust 
ourselves alone in the hands of temptation, nor wan- 
der from our Guardian, but always to yield unto his 
wisdom and guidance. Lastly, to comfort ourselves 
in this, that while we are in our minority we are under 
the mercy of a father. A mercy of conservation by his 
providence, giving us all good things richly to enjoy, 
even all things necessary unto life and godliness : » 
mercy of protection, defending us by his power from 
all evil : a mercy of education and instruction, teach- 
ing us by his word and Spirit : a mercy of communion, 
many ways familiarly conversing with us and mani- 
festing bimself unto us: a mercy of guidance and 
government by the Jaws of his family : a mercy of 
discipline, fitting us by fatherly chastisements for 
those fiirther honours and employments he will advance 
us unto ; and when our minority is over, and we are 
once come to a perfect man, we shall then be actually, 
admitted unto that inheritance immortal, invisible, and 
that fadeth not away, which the same mercy at first 
purchased, and now prepareth and reserveth for us. 
Now it followeth : 

Verse 4. *' I will heal their backsliding, I will love 
them freely, for mine anger is turned away from him." 

In the former words we have considered both 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 3, 4. 145 

IsmeFs petition in time of trouble, an;l the promise 
and covenant which thereupon they bind themselves 
in. In these and the following words unto the end of 
the eighth verse, we have the gracious answer of God 
to both, promising both in his free love to grant their 
petition, and by his free grace to enable them unto 
theperformance of tlie covenant which they had made. 

•Rie petition consisted of two parts. I. That God 
would take away all iniquity. 2. That he would do 
them good, or receive them graciously. To both 
these God giveth them a full and a gracious answer. 
1. That he will take away all iniquity by healing their 
backsliding. 2. That he would do them good and 
heap all manner of blessings upon them, which are 
expressed by the various metaphors of fruiti^lnesd, 
opposite to the contrary expressions of judgment in 
former parts of the prophecy. 

'* I will heal their baeksliding." This is one of tlie 
names by which God is pleased to make-himself known 
unto his people, ** I am the Lord thathealeth thee," 
Exod. XV. 26. And, *^ Return, ye backsliding children, 
and I will heal your backslidings," Jer. iii. 22. 

Now God healeth sin four manner of ways : 

1, By a gracious pardon, burying, covering, not 
imputing tliem unto us. So it seems to be expounded, 
Psa. ciii. 3. and that which is called healing in one- 
place, is called forgiveness in another, if we compare 
Matt. xiii. 15. with Mark iv. 12. 

2. By a spiritual and effectual reformation, purg- 
ing the conscience from dead works, making it strong 
and able to serve God in new obedience ; for that 
which health is to the body, holiness is to the soul. 
Therefore the Sun of righteousness is said to arise with 
healing in his wings, Mai. iv. 2. whereby we are to 
understand the gracious influence of the Holy Spirit 

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cQuyeying the virtue of tlie Uood of Chrial uHto the 
coivicieiiice, even as the beamd of the sun do the heat 
, ^Jxi influence thereof unto the earth» thereby calling 
out the herbs and flowersi, and healing those defonni- 
ties which winter had brought upon it. 

8. By removing and withdrawing of judgments, 
which the sins of a people had brought like wounds 
or sicknesses upon tliem. So healing i& opposite to 
smiting and wounding, Deut xxxii. 39. Job v. 18. 
Ho«. yi. 1, 2. Jer. ^xxiii. 5, 6, 

4. l^Y eomforting gainst the anguuik and distxesa 
^hioh sin is apt to bring upon the conscience. Fos 
99 medicines cleanse away corrupt humours, sa cor- 
(&aiB> likewise strengthen and refresh weak and de- 
j,e€%^ paitients. ; aioA this is one of Christ's principal 
WQT^, to hind mi heal the broken in heart, to restore 
comforts unto mourners, to set at liberty them that 
s^^ bruj^io^ mA to have mercy upon those whose 
bones are. ye:^ed, Psa. cxlvil. 3. Isa. Ivii. 18, 19. 
Luke iv. \S>, Psa* vi. 2, 8. I am not willing to shut 
9»y of these out of the meaning of the text 1. Be- 
cause it is an answer to thaA prayer, *' Take away all 
iniquity." The all that is in it, the guilt, the stain, the 
powejr, the punishi»ent, the angukh, whatever evil it 
is apt to bring upon the conscience : let it not do us 
miy hurt at all ^ Becan^ God's works are perfect ; 
where he forgives sin he lemoves it, where he con- 
vinceth of righteousness, unto pardon of sin, he con- 
vijQicetK alsa of judgment^ unto the casting out of the 
prince of this, world, and bringeth forth that judgment 
unto victory, MbXL xii. 20. 

** Their backsliding." Their prayer was against 
all iniquity, and God in his answer thereunto singletJi 
out one kind of iniquity, but one of the greatest by 

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ON HOSEA XlV. — VBkdiES 3, 4. 14t 

1. And fiif^ to leadi them ftnd ms wixetk We pruy 
against sm, not to content ounkbiei mih, gene<» 
raiities, but lo bewail our great and special alfiB by 
name, those specially that have been tnoBtcom|nidhe^ 
sive and the seminaries of many olhets. 

2. To comfort them ; for if God pax^n br naina 
the greatest sin, then surely none of the rest will stand 
in the way of his mercy ; tf he forgite the talents, we 
need not doubt but he will forgive the pence toa 
Paul was guilty of many other sins, but when he will 
magnify the grace of Christ, he makes mention of his 
great sins : a blasphemer, a persecute, injurious ( and 
comforts himself in the mercy which hb nad obtilined 
against them, t Tim. i. 13. 

S. To intimate the great guilt of apostacy and te* 
bellion against God. After we have known hkn and 
tasted of his mercy, and given up ourselves unto his 
service, and come out of £gy]^ and Sodom, then to 
look back again and to be £al8e to his covenant, this 
God looks on, not as a single dn, but as a compound 
of an sins. When aman turns from God, he doth as it 
Were resume and take home tipon his conscience all 
the sins of his life again. 

4. To proportion his answer to their rei)entanoe. 
They confess their apostacy, they had been in cove- 
nant with Grod, they confess he was their first hus- 
band, Hos. ii. 7. and they forsook him, and sought to 
horses, to men, to idols, to vanity and lies : this is thd 
sin they chiefly bewail ; and therefore this is the sin 
which God chiefly singles out to pardon and to heal 
them of. This is the great goodness of God towards 
those who pray in sincerity, that he fits his mercy to 
answer them in the main of their desires, let it be unto 
them even as they will. 

• I will love them freelv." This is set down as the 

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fountain of that remission, sanctification, and comfort 
which is here promised. It comes not from our con 
version unto God, but from God's free love and grace 
unto us. And this is added: 

1. To humble them that they should not ascribe 
anything to themselves, their repentance, their prayers, 
their covenants and promises, as if these had been the 
means to procure mercy for them, or as if there were 
any objective grounds of loveliness in them to stir up 
the love of God towards them. It is not for their 
sake that he doth it, but for his own, '' The Lord 
sets his love upon them because he loved them," Deut 
vii. 7, 8. " Not for your sakes do I this," saith the 
Lord God, ** be it known unto you," £zek. xxxvi. 
22. " He will have mercy because he will have 
mercy," Rom. ix. 15. 

2. To support them, above the guilt of their greatest 
sins. Men think nothing more easy while they live in 
sin, and are not affected with the weight and heinous- 
ness of it, than to believe mercy and pardon. But 
when the soul in conversion unto God, feels the heavy 
burden of some great sins, when it considers its rebel- 
lion and apostacy, and backsliding from God, it will 
then be very apt to think God will not forgive or 
heal so great wickedness as this. There is a natural 
Novatianism^ in the timorous conscience of convinced 
sinners, to doubt and question pardon for sins of 
apostacy and faHing after repentance. Therefore in 
this case God takes a penitent off from the considera- 
tion of himself by his own thoughts, unto the height 
and excellency of His thoughts, who knows how to 
pardon abundantly, Isa. lv.7 — ^9. Jer.xxix. II. Ezek. 
xxxvii. 3. Notliing is too hard for love, especially 

* Excessive strictness. 

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ON HOSBA XIV.-*VER$fiS 3, 4. 149 

free love, that hath no foumlatioii or inducements from 
without itself. 

And because we read it before, Hos. viii. 5. that 
God's anger was kindled against them, therefore he 
here adds that this also should be turned awaj from 
thenL Anger will consist with love ; we find God 
angry with Moses, and Aaron, and Miriam, and Asa, 
and he doth sometimes visit with rods and scourges, 
where he doth not utterly take away his loving-kind- 
ness from a people, Psa. Ix^xix. 32, S3. A man may 
be angry with his wife, or child, or fri6nd, whom yet 
he dearly loveth. And God is said to be thus angry 
with his people, when the effects of displeasure are 
discovered towards them. Now, upon their repent 
ance and conversion, God promiseth not only to love 
them freely, but to clear up his countenance towards 
them, to make them by the removal of judgments to 
see and know tlie fruits of his free love and bounty 
unto them. When David called Absalom home from 
banishment, this was an effect of love ; but when he 
said, " Let him not see my face,*' this was the continu- 
ation of anger ; but at last when he admitted him into 
his presence and kissed him, here that anger was 
turned away from him too, 2 Sam. xiv. 21. 24. 33. 

These words then contain God's merciful answer 
to the first part of Israel's prayer for the taking away 
of all iniquity, which had been the fountain of those 
sad judgments under which they languished and pined 
away. Wherein ther^ are two parts, 1. The ground 
of God's love. 2. A double fruit of that love— in 
healing their backsliding, in removing his anger and 
heavy judgments from them. We will briefly handle 
tiiem in tiie oi*der of the text 

" I will heal their backsliding." When God's peo- 
ple do return unto him, and pray against sin, then 

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God out of his free love doth heal them of it. First, 
he teacheth them what to ask, and then he tells them 
what he will give. Tlius we find conversion and 
healing joined together. " They shall return even 
to the Lord, and he shall be entreated of them and shall 
heal them,*' Isa. xix. 22. '* Return, ye backsliding 
children, I will heal your backslidings," Jer. iii. 22. 
Men, if they be injured and provoked by those whom 
they have in their power to undo, though they return 
and are ready to ask forgiveness, yet many times, out 
of pride and revenge, will take their time and oppor- 
tunity to repay the wrong. But God doth not so, his 
pardons, as all his other gifts, are without upbraid- 
ing: as soon as ever his servants come back unto 
him with tears and confession, he looks not upon them 
with scorn but with joy ; his mercy makes more haste 
to embrace them, than their repentance to return unto 
him, Luke xv. 20. then out comes the wine, the oil, 
the balm, the cordials ; then the wounds of a Saviour 
do, as it were, bleed afresh to drop in mercy into the 
sores of such a penitent. O though he be not a duti- 
ful, not a pleasant child, yet he is a child ; though I 
** spake against him, yet I remember him still, my 
bowels are troubled for him, I will surely have mercy 
upon him," Jer. xxxi. 20. The Lord greatly com- 
plains of the inclination of his people to backsliding, 
and yet he cannot find in his heart to destroy them, 
but expresseth a kind of conflict between justice and 
mercy ; and at last resolves, I am God and not man ; 
I can as well heal their backsliding by my love, as 
revenge it by my justice ; therefore " I will not ex-- 
ecute the fierceness of mine anger, but I will cause 
them to walk after the Lord," Hos. xi. 7. 10. Yea, so 
merciful he is, that even upon a hypocritical conversion, 
when liis people did but flatter and lie unto him, and 

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ON r.OSEA XIV. — VERSES 3, 4 1 51 

their heart was not right towards him, nor they stedfast 
in his covenant, yet the text saith, " He being full of 
compassion, forgave their iniquity," (not as to the justi- 
fication of their persons, for tnat is never without faith 
unfeigned, but so far as to the mitigation of their punish- 
ment, that he destroyed them not, nor stirred up all 
his wrath against them, Psa. Ixxviii. 34. 39.) for so 
that place is to be expounded, as appeareth by the 
like parallel place, Ezek.xx. 17. "Nevertheless, mine 
eye spared them from destroying them, neither did 1 
make an end of them in the wilderness." 

Now the metaphorical word both here and sg often 
elsewhere, used in this argument, leadeth us to look 
upon sinners as patients, and upon God as a physician. 
By which two considerations we shall find the exceed- 
ing mercy of God in the pardon and purging away of 
sin set forth unto us. 

Healing, then, is a relative word, and leads us first 
to the consideration of a patient who is to be healed, 
and that is here a grievous sinner fallen into a relapse. 
Healing is of two sorts : the healing of a sickness by 
a physician, the healing of a wound by a surgeon : 
and sin is both a sickness and a wound. The whole 
head is sick, the whole heart faint, from the sole of 
the foot even unto the head, there is no soundness in 
it, but wounds and bruises, and putrefying sores, Isa. 
i. 3. 6. a sickness that wants healing, a wound that 
wants binding, £zek. xxxiv. 4. a sick sinner that 
wants a physician to call to repentance. Matt. ix. 12,13. 
a wounded sinner that wants a Samaritan (so the 
Jews called Christ, John viii. 480 ^ ^i"^ ^P ^^^ 
pour in wine and oil, Luke x. 34. 

Diseases are of several sorts, but those of all others 
most dangerous that are in the vital parts, as all the 
diseases of sin are, and from thence spread themselves 

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152 Fovaru sermon 

over the whole man. Ignorance, pride, carnal prin- 
ciples, corrupt judgment, diseases of the head ; hard- 
ness, stuhbomness, atheism, rebellion, diseases of the 
heart ; lust, a dart in the liver ; corrupt communica- 
tion, the effect of putrefied hmgs; gluttony and 
drunkenness, the swellings and dropsy of die belly ; 
despair and horror, the grief of the bowels ; apostacy, 
a relapse into all : an ear that cannot hear God 
speaki Jer. vi. 10. an eye quite daubed up that can- 
not see him strike, Isa. xxvi. 11. a palate out of 
taste, that cannot savour nor relish heavenly things, 
Rom. viii. 5. lips poisoned, Rom. iii. 13. a tongue 
set on fire, Jam. iii. 6. flesh consumed ; bones stick- 
ing out, sore vexed and broken to pieces. Job 
xxxiii. 21. Psa. vi. 2. li. 8. Some diseases are dull, 
others acute ; some stupifying, others tormenting: 
sin is all ; a stupifying palsy that takes aWay feeling, 
Eph. iv. 19. a plague in the heart which sets all on 
fire, 1 Kings viii. 38. Hos. vii. 4. 

Let us consider a little the proper passions and 
effects of most diseases, and see how they suit to 

1. Pain and distemper. This, first or last, is in all 
sin ; for it begets in wicked and impenitent men the 
pain of guilt, horror, trembling of heart, anguish of 
conscience, fear of wrath, expectation of judgment and 
fiery indignation, as in Cain, Pharaoh, Ahab, Felix, 
and divers others. Gen. iv. 13, 14. Exod. ix. 27, 28. 
] Kings xxi. 27. Acts xxiv. 25. Isa. xxxiii. 14. Heb. 
ii. 15. Rom. viii. 15. Heb. x. 27. And in penitent 
men it begets the pain of shame and sorrow, and in- 
quietude of spirit, a wound in the spirit, a prick in the 
very heart, Rom. vi. 21. Ezek. xvi. 61. 2 Cor. vii. 10. 
Prov. xviii. 14. Acts ii. 37. Penitence and pain are 
words of one derivation, and are very near of kin unto 

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ON HOSEA XIV. VERaES 3, 4. 153 

one another. Never waa any wound cured without 
pain, nerer any sin healed without sorrow. 

2. Weakness and indisposedness to the actions of 
life. Sin is like an unruly spleen, or a greedy wen in 
the body that sucks all nourishment, and converts all 
supplies into its own growth, and so exhausts the 
strength and vigour of the soul^ making it unfit and 
unable to do any good. Whenever it sets about any 
duty, till sin be cured, it goes about it like an arm out 
of joint, which when you would move it one way, doth 
fall back another. It faints, and flags, and is not 
able to put fortli any skill or any delight unto any 
good duty. Naturally men are reprobate or void of 
judgment unto any good work. Tit. i. 16. Godliness 
is a mystery, a spiritual skill and trade ; there is learn- 
ing, and use, and experience, and much exercise re- 
quired to be handsome and dexterous about it, 
1 Tim. iii. 16. Heb. v. 13, 14. To be sinners, 
and to be without strength, in the apostle's phrase, is 
all one, Horn. v. 6. 8. And look how much flesh there 
is in any man, so much disability is there to perform 
any thing that is good, Eom. vii. 18. Therefore the 
hands of sinners are said to hang down, and their 
knees to be feeble, and their feet to be lame, that can- 
not make straight paths till they be healed, Heb. xii. 
12, 13. If they at any time upon natural dictates, or 
some sudden strong conviction, or pang of fear, or 
stirrings of conscience, do offer at any good work, 'to 
pray, to repent, to believe, to obey, they bungle at it, 
and are out of their element. " lliey are wise to do 
evil, but to do good they have no knowledge." They 
presently grow weary of any essays and offers at well- 
doing, and cannot hold out or persevere in them. 

3. Decay and consumption. Sin wastes and wears 
out the vigour of soul and body, feeds upon all our 

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tine and strength, and exhausts it in the services of 
lust. Sickness is a chargeable thing, a consumption at 
once to the person and to the estate. The poor woman 
in the gospel who luid an issue of blood, spent all 
that she had on physicians and was never the better, 
Luke viii. 4S. So poor sinners empty all the powers 
of soul, of body, of time, of estate, every thing within 
their reach upon their lusts, and are as unsatisfied at 
last as at the first, Ecc. i. 8. Like a silkworm which 
works out his bowels into such a mass wherein him* 
self is buried. It weareth them out, and sucketh 
away the radical strength in the service of it and yet 
never givetli them over : but as Pharaoh's taskmasters 
exacted the brick when they had taken away the 
straw; so lust doth consume and weaken natural 
strenffth in the obedience of it: and yet when nature 
is exhausted, the strength of lust is as great, and the 
commands as tynmnous as ever before, Isa. Ivii. 10. 
Jer. ii. 25. We are to distinguish between the vital 
force of the Acuities, and the activity of lust which 
sets them on work ; that decays and hastens to death, 
but sin retains its strength and vigour still ; nothing 
kills that but the blood of Christ, and the decay of 
nature ariseth out of the strength of sin ; the more 
any man, in any lust whatsoever, makes himself a ser- 
vant of sin, and the more busy and active he is in 
that service, the more will it eat into him and consume 
him ; as the hotter the fever is, Uie sooner is the body 
wasted and dried up by it. 

4. Deformity. Sickness withereth the beauty of 
the body, maketh it of a glorious, a ghastly and 
loathsome spectacle. Come to the comeliest person 
living after a long and pining sickness, and you shall 
not find the man in his own sfitpe ; a wan countenance, 
a shrivelled flesh, a lean visage, a hollow and standing 

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ON H09SA XIV.-«-VERSES 3, 4. 1&5 

eye» a trembling hand, a Btammeriag tongue, a 
bowed back, a feeble knee, nothing left but the 
stakes of the hedge and a few unewa to hold them 
together. Behold here the picture of a sinner 
swelled with pride, pined with envy, bowed with earths 
liness, wasted and eaten up with lust, made as stink- 
ing and unsavoury as a dead carcase, Psa. xiv. 3. 
When thou seest an unmarciM man, that hath no 
compassion left in him, think thou sawest Judas or 
king Jehoram, whose sore disease made his bowels 
£sdl out, 2 ChioQ. xxi. 19. When thou seest a worldly 
mam whose heart is glued to earthly things, think 
upon the poor woman who waa bowed together, and 
could not lift up herself, Luke xiii. 11. When thou 
seest a hypocrite walking crookedly in the ways 
of God, think upon Mephibosheth or Asa, laniie, 
halting, diseased in their feet. When thou seest 
a proud, ambitious man, thi&k upon Herod eaten up 
with worms. Oh if the diseasea of the soul could 
come forth and show themselYes in the body and work 
such deformity there (where it would not do a thott«» 
sandth part so mucJi hurt) as they do within ; if a man 
could in the glass of the word see the ugliness of the 
one as j^nly aa in a material glass the feulnesa of the 
other, now would this make lum cry out. My head, 
my head ; my bowels, my bowels ; my leawMss, my 
teanness ; unclean, unctean, unclean. * No man thinks 
anyshape uffly enough to represent tiie devil by ; yet 
take him in hM natural state^ and he was a most ^o»- 
rious creature : it is sin thattums him into a 8erp«»t or 
dragon. Diere is something of the monster in. every 
sin ; the belly or the feet set in the place of the head 
or heart ; sensual andworldiy lusta set up above reason ; 
and corrupt reason above grace. 

Now because the sickness here spoken of is a 

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felling sickness, and that the worst kind of fall, not for- 
ward in our way or race, as every good man some- 
times falls, where a man hath the help of his knees 
and hands to break the blow, to prevent or lessen the 
hurt, and to make him to rise again ; but old Eli falls 
a falling backward, where a man can put forth no 
part to save the whole, and so doth more dangerously 
break and bruise liimself tliereby. Therefore as it is 
a sickness which requires curing, so it is a wound 
which requires healing and binding. The ancients 
compare it to falling into a pit full of dirt and stones : 
where a man doth not only defile, but miserably break 
and bruise himself. There are all the evils of a dan- 
gerous and mortal wound. 

Add to all this, that in this diseased and wounded 
condition, 1. A man hath no power to heal or to help 
himself, but in that respect he must cry out with 
the prophet, ** My wound is incurable, and refuseth 
to be healed," Jer. xv. 18. 2. He hath no desire, no 
will, no thought to inquire or send after a physician 
who may heal him, but is well contented rather to con- 
tinue as he is than to be put to the pain and trouble of a 
cure, and pleaseth himself in the goodness of his own 
condition. Rev. iii. 17. 3. He is in the hands of his 
cruel enemy, who takes no pity on him, but by flattery 
and tyranny and new temptations continually cheiish- 
eth the disease. 4. When the true physician comes, he 
shuts the door against him, refuseth his counsel, reject- 
eth his receipts, quarrels with his medicines ; they are 
too bitter, or too strong and purifying, or too sharp and 
searching ; he will not be healed at all except it may be 
his own way. Prov. i. 24, 25. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16. Ezek, 
xxiv. 13. Matt, xxiii. 37. Jer. xiii. 11. Thus we have 
taken a view of the patient, sick, weak, pained, con- 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VER SES 8 , 4. 157. 

sumed, deformed, wounded, and sore bruised ; without 
power or help at home, without friends abroad : 
BO sense of danger, no desire of change ; patient of 
his disease, impatient of his cure ; but one means in 
the world to help him, and he unable to procure it ; 
and being offered to him, unwilling to entertain it ; who 
can expect after all this but to hear the knell ring and 
to see the grave opened for such a sick person as this. 

Now let us take a view of the physician. Surely 
an ordinary one would be so far from visiting such a 
patient, that in so desperate a condition as this he 
would quite forsake him, as their manner is to leave 
their patients when they lie a dying. Here then ob- 
serve the singular goodness of this physician. 

Though other physicians judge of the disease when 
it is brought unto them, yet the patient first feels it 
and complains of it himself; but this physician giveth 
the patient the very feeling of his disease, and is fain 
to take notice of that as well as to minister the cure. 
** He went on frowardly in the way of his heart," saith 
the Lord, and pleased himself in his own ill condi- 
tion ; " I have seen his ways, and will heal him," Isa, 
Ivii. 17, 18. 

Also observe, other patients send for the physician, 
and use many entreaties to be visited and undertaken 
by him. Here the physician comes unsent for, and 
entreats the sick person to be healed. The world is 
undone by falling off from God, and yet God is the 
first that begins reconciliation, and the obstacle to it 
is in the. world and not in him : and therefore there is a 
great emphasis in the apostle's expression, ^\ God was 
in Christ, reconciling the world to himself ;" not him- 
self unto the world. He entreats us to be reconciled, 
2 Cor. V. 19, 20. He is *' found of them that sought 

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him not,'* laa. Ixv. 1. and his office is notonly tosaTO, 
but to seek that which was lost. 

Again, otlier physicians are well used, and enter- 
tained with respect and honour ; but our patient heie 
neglects and misuses his physician, falls from him, 
betakes himself unto pretenders and physicians of no 
value, yet he insists on his merey, and comes when he 
is forsaken, when he is repelled, '* I have spread oi^ 
ray hands all the day unto a rebeltious people,** Isa. 
kv. 2. 

Further, other physicians have usually ample aifcd 
honourable rewards for the fittendance they give ; but 
this physician comes out of love, heals freely, nay is 
bountiful to his patient, doth not only heal him but 
bestows gifts upon him, gives the visit, gives the me- 
dicine, sends the ministers and servants who watch 
and keep the patient. 

Lastly, other physicians prescribe a bitter potion for 
the sick person to take, this physician drinhelh off the 
bitterest himself; others prescribe the sore to be 
lanced, this physician is wounded and smitten him- 
self; others order the patient to bleed, here the 
physician bleeds himself: yea, he is not only the phjr- 
sician but the medicme, and gives himself, his own 
flesh, his own blood, for a purifier, a cordial, a jdaster 
to the soul of Ins patient; dies hifneelf that his pa- 
tient may live, and by his stripes we aie healed, Isa. 
liii. 5. 

We should from all t\ih learn : 

1. To admire the uasearchable riches of the mercy 
of our God, who is pleased in our misery to prevent* 
us with goodness, and when we neither felt our dieease 
nor desired a remedy, is pleased to eonvinee us of our 
sins, ** Thou hast &llen by thine k)i(]iuty;'* to invite 
♦ Go before. 

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ON HOSfiA XIV.^-TSRSBS 8, 4. IftD 

as to repetitiino6) '* Israel, retum ttnlo Ihe Lonl thy 
God ;*' to put words into our inoudi» and to draw 
OUT petition for us» " Take with you words and say 
unto him, l^ke away all iniquity," &c. to furnish us 
with arguments, we are fatherfess, thou art merciful ; 
to encourage us with promises, '^ I will heal, I will 
love ;" to give us his ministers to proclaim, and Ids 
Spirit to apply these mercies unto us. If he did not 
convince us that iniquity would he a downfal and a ruin 
mto tts, £eek. xviii. 30. we should hold it fast and he 
pleased with our disease, like a madman who quarrels 
with his cure, and had rather continue mad than he 
heaJed, Joh lii. 19—21. 

If bemg convinced he did not invite us to repent- 
ance, we should run away from him as Adam did. No 
man loves to he in the company of an enemy, much 
less when that enemy is a judge. '* They have turned 
their back unto me, and not their face," Jer. ii. 27. 
Adam will hide himself ** from the presence of the 
Lord," Gen. iii. 8. and Cain " will go out from the 
presence of the Lord," Gen. iv. 16. Guilt cannot 
look upon majesty, stubble dares not come near the 
fire ; if we be in our sins, we cannot stand before God, 
Ezra ix* 15. 

If being invited, he did not put words into our 
mouths, we should not know what to say unto him. 
We know not wherewith to come before the Lord, or 
to bow before the high God, if he do not show us 
what is good, Mic. vi. 6. 8. "Where God is the Judge, 
who cannot be mocked or derided, who knoweth all 
things, and if our heart condemn us, he is greater than 
our hearts, and wherever we hide can find us out and 
make our sin to find us too. Gal. vi. 7. 1 John iii. 20. 
Num. xxxii. 23. where, I say, this God is the Judge, 
there guilt stoppeth tlie mouth and maketh the sinner 

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speechless. Matt xxii. 12. Rom. iii. 19. nay, the best 
of US " know not to pray as wa oufflit, except the 
Spirit be pleased to help our infirmities, ' Rom. viii. 26. 
When we are taught what to say, if God do not with* 
draw his anger we shall never be able to reason with 
him. Job ix. 13, 14. " Withdraw thine hand from 
me, let not thy dread make me afraid, then I will 
answer, then 1 will speak,'' Job xiii. 21, 22. If he do 
not reveal mercy, if he do not promise love or healing ; 
if he do not make it appear that he is a God who 
heareth prayers, flesh will not dare to come near unto 
him, 2 Sam. vii. 27. We can never pray till we can 
cry, Abba, Father ! we can never call unto him but in 
the multitude of his mercies. As tlie earth is shut and 
bound up by frost and cold, and putteth not forth her 
precious fruits till the warmth and heat of the summer 
call them out : so the heart under the cold affections 
of fear and guilt, under the dark apprehensions of 
wrath and judgment, is so contracted that it knows not 
to draw near to God ; but when mercy shines, when 
the love of God is shed abroad in it, then also is the 
heart itself shed abroad and enlarged to pour out itself 
unto God. Even when distressed sinners pray, their 
prayer proceeds from apprehensions of mercy, for 
prayer is the child of faith, Rom. x. 14. James v. 15. 
and the object of faith is mercy. 

2. The way to prize this mercy is to grow ac- 
quainted with our own sickness ; to see our face in 
the glass of the law ; to consider how odious it ren- 
ders us to God ; how desperately miserable in our* 
selves. The deeper the sense of misery, the higher 
the estimation of mercy. When the apostle looked 
on himself as the chief of sinners, then he accounted 
it a " saying worthy of all acceptation, that Christ 
Jesus came into the world to savo sinners^'' I Tim. 

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ON UOSftA XIV.—VEftBfiS 3, 4. 161 

i. 15. nil we he sick and weary we shall not look 
after a |>hyttciaii to heal and eaae as, Matt. ix. 
12. xi. 38. till we be pricked in our hearto we shall 
not he hasty to inquire after the means of salvation^ 
Acts ii.'37. Though the proclamation of pardon be 
made to all that will, Rev. xxii. 17. yet none are wilW 
ing till they are brought to extremities : as men cast 
not their goods into the sea, till they see they must 
perish themselves, if they do not Some men must 
be hound before they can be cured. All that God doth 
to us in conversion, he doth most freely ; but a gift is 
not a ^ till it be received, Horn. v. 17. John i. 13. 
and we naturally refuse and reject Christ when he is 
offered, Isa. liii. a John i. 11. because he is not 
offered but upon these terms — ^that we deny ourselves, 
and tdke up a cross, and follow himw Therefore we 
must be wrought upon by some terror or otlier, 3 Cor. 
V. 11. When we find the wrath of God abiding upon 
us, and our souls shut under it as in a prison, John 
Hi. 86. Gal iii. 22. and the fire of it working and 
boiling like poison in our consciences, tiien we shall 
ndne mercy and cry for it as the prophet doth ; *' Heal 
me, O Lord, and 1 shidl be healed ; save me, and I 
shall be saved ; for thou art my praise,'' Jer. xvii. 14< 
nungs necessary are never to be valued to thehr utter^ 
most but in extremities. When there is a great ftonine 
in Samaria, an ass's head (which at an<Mher time is 
thrown out for carrion) will be more worth &an in a 
plentiful season the whole body of an ox. Nay, 
hunger shall in such a case over vote nature^ and 
devour the very tender love of a mother ; the life of a 
child shall not be so dear to the heart, as his flesh to the 
palate of a pined parent, 3 Kings vi. 25. 38. As soon 
as a man finds a shipwreck, a fiimine, a hell in his 
sool^ till -Christ save, feed, deliver it, immediaiely 

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Christ will be the desire of that soul, and nothioff in 
heaven or earth valued in comparison of huu : wen 
that which was esteemed the foolishness of preaching 
before, shall be counted the power of God, and the 
wisdom of God ; then every one of Christ's ordinances, 
which are the waters of the temple, for the healing of 
the sea, that is, of many people, £zek. xlvii. 8. and the 
leaves of the tree of life, which are for the healing of 
nations, Rev. xxii. 2. and the streams of that fountain 
which is opened in Israel for sin and for unclean- 
ness, Zech. xiii. 1. and the wings of the Sun of 
righteousness, whereby he conveyeth healing to his 
church, Mai. iv. 2. shall be esteemed, as indeed 
they are, the riches, the glory, the treasure, Uie 
feast, the physic, the salvation of such a soul, Eph. 
iii. 8. 2 Cor. iii. 8. 11. iv. 6, 7. Isa. xxv. 6. Rev. 
xix. 9. Luke iv. 18. Heb. iL 3. James i. 21. John 
xii. 50. Acts xxviii. 28. And a man will wait on 
them with as much diligence and attention as ever 
the impotent people did at the pool of Bethesda, when 
the angel stirred the water ; and endure the healing 
severity of them, not only with patience, but witS 
love and thankfulness ; suffer reason to be captivated, 
will to be crossed, high imaginations to be cast down, 
every thought to be sutSued, conscience to be 
searched, heart to be purified, lust to be cut off and 
mortified ; in all things will such a sick soul be con- 
tented to be dieted, restrained, and ordered by the 
counsel of this heavenly physician. 

It is here next to be noted, that God promiseth to 
heal their backslidings. The word imports a depart- 
ing from God, or a turning away again. It is quite 
contrary in the formal nature of it unto faith and re- 
pentance, and implies that which the apostle calls a 
repenting of repentance, 2 Cor. vii. 10. By. feith wo 

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ON HOSBA XIV.-*VSft8ES 3, 4. 168 

oome to Christ, John vi. 37. and cleave to him, and 
lay hold upon him, Heb. vi. 18. Isa. Ivi. 2. 6. but by 
this we depart, and draw back from him, and 
let him go, Heb. x. 38, 39. By the one we prize 
Christ as infinitely precious, and Ills ways as holy and 
good, Phil. iii. 8. 2 Pet. i. 4. by the other we vilify 
and set them at naught, stumble at them as ways that 
do not profit. Matt. xxi. 42. Acts iv. 11. 1 Pet. ii. 
7, 8. Job xxi. 14, 1 5. For a man having approved 
of God's ways, and entered into covenants with him, 
after this to go from his word and fling up his bar- 
gain, and start aside like a deceitfiil bow : of all other 
dispositions of the soul this is one of the worst, to 
deal with our sins as Israel did with their servants, ' 
Jer. xxxiv. 10, ] 1. dismiss them, and then take them 
again. It is the sad fruit of an evil and unbelieving 
heart, Heb. iii. 12. And God threateneth such per- 
sons to " lead them forth with the workers of iniquity,*' 
Psa. cxxv. 5. as cattle are led to slaughter, or male- 
factors to execution. And yet we here see God pro- 
miseth healing unto such sinners. 

For understanding whereof we are to know that 
there is a twofold apostacy. The one out of impo- 
tency of affection, and prevalency of lust, drawing the 
heart to look towards the old pleasures thereof again, 
aj3d it is a recidivation or relapse into a former sinful 
condition out of forgetfulness and falseness of heart, 
for want of the fear of God to balance the conscience, 
and to fix and unite the heart unto him : which was 
the frequent sin of Israel, to make many promises and 
covenants unto God, and to break them as fast, 
Judg. ii. 11, 12. P8a.>vi. 7, 8. 11—13. And tUs 
falling from our first love, growing cold and slack in 
duty, breaking our engagements unto God, and re« 
turning again to folly, though it be, like a relapse after 

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164 ' FOURTH 8BUI0N 

a disease, exceedingly dangerous, yet God is 8<RDe<- 
times pleased to forgive and heal it. 

The other kind of apostacy is proud and maliciotas : 
when, after the taste of the good word of God» and the 
powers of the world to come, men set themselves to 
hate, oppose, persecute godliness, to do despite to the 
Spirit of graee, to fling off the holy strictness of Christ's 
yoke, to swell against the searching power of his 
word, to trample upon the blood of the covenant ; and 
when they know the spiritualness and holiness of God's 
ways, tlie innocency and piety of his servants, do yet 
notwithstanding set themselves against them for that 
reason, though under other pretences. This is not a 
weak hut a wilful, and, if I may so speak, a strong 
and a stubborn apostacy. A sin which wholly hard- 
eneth the heart {gainst repentance, and by conse- 
quence is incurable. To speak agamst the Son of 
man, that is, against the doctrine, disciples, ways, ser« 
vants of Christ, looking o^ him only as a man^ the 
leader of a sect, as master of a new way, (which was 
Paul's notion of Christ and christian religion when he 
persecuted it, and for which cause he found mercy, 
for had he done that knowingly, which he did igna- 
rantly, it had been a sin incapable of mercy. Acts 
xxvi. 9. 1 Tim. i. 13.) thus to sin, is a bla^h^ay 
that may be pardoned : but to speak against the S^nrity 
that b, to oppose and persecute the doctrine, worship» 
ways, servants of Christ, knowing them and acknow- 
ledging in them a spiritual holiness^ and to do it, sa 
that the formal motive of malice against them, is the 
power and lustre of that Spirit which appeareth in 
them ; and the formal principle of it, neither igno- 
rance, nor self-ends, but very wilfulness, and imme- 
diate malignity ; wo h^ to that man whose natural 
enmity and antipathy against godliness do ever swell 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 8, 4. 165 

to 80 great and daring a height ; " It shall not be 
forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world 
to come/' Matt. xii. 32. That is, say some, neither in 
the time of life, nor in the point or moment of death 
which translates them unto the world to come ; others, 
not in this life by justification, nor in the world to come 
by consummate redemption, and public judiciary abso* 
lution in the last day, wnich is therefore called the day 
of redemption, in which men are said to find mercy of 
the Lord, Eph. iv. 30. 2 Tim. i. 18. For that which is 
here done in the conscience by the ministry of the word, 
and efficacy of the Spirit, shall be then publicly and 
judicially pronounced by Christ's own mouth before 
angels and men, 2 Cor. v. 10. Others suppose that it 
means, shall not be forgiven, that is, shall be plagued 
and punished both in this life and in that to come. 
Give me leave to add what I have conceived of the mean- 
ing of this place, though no way condemning the expo- 
sitions of so great and learned men as have already 
given their opinion upon this text. 

I take it,- by " this world,'* we may understand the 
church which then was of the Jews, or the present age 
which our Saviour Christ tlien lived in. In the scripture, 
I think, the word age or world is to be sometimes 
restrained to the church. Now, as Israel was God's 
first-bom, and the first fruits of his increase, Exod. 
iv. 22. Jer. xxxi. 9. ii. 3. so the church of Israel is 
called the church of the first-bom, Heb. xii. 23. and 
the first tabernacle^ and a worldly sanctuary, Heb. ix. 
1 . 8. and Jerusalem that now is. Gal. iv. 25. And 
then by the world to come, we are to understand the 
christian church afterwards to be planted ; for so fre- 
quently in scripture is the evangelical church called 
the world to come, and the last days, and the ends of 
tlie world, and the things thereunto belonging. Things 

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to come which had been hidden from former ages 
and generations, and were by the miniBtry of the 
apostles made known unto the church in their time, 
uduch the prophets and righteous men of the former 
ages did not see nor attain unto* Thus it is said, ** In 
these last days God hath spoken to us by his Son,** Heb. 
i. 2. And, unto angels he did not put in subjection 
the world to come, Heb. ii. 5. and, Christ was made 
a Uigh-priest of good things to come, Heb. ix. 11. 
and, the law had a shadow of good tilings to come, 
Heb. X. 1. and, the times of the gospel are cadled 
tiges to come, £ph. ii. 7. and, the ends of the world, 
1 Cor. X. 11. Thus legal and evangelical dispensa- 
tions are usually distinguished by the names of times 
past, and the last days of times to come, Heb. i. h 
£ph. iii. 9, 10. Col. i. 25, 26. The one an earthly 
and temporary, the other a heavenly and abiding 
administration, and so the septuagint render the orn 
ginal word, Isa. ix. 6. ** Everlasting Father," which is 
one of the names of Christ, The father of the world 
to come. 

The meaning then of the place seems to be this : 
That sins of high and desperate presumption, com* 
mitted maliciously agaimt known light, and against 
the evidence of God's Spirit, as they had no sacrifice 
or expiation allowed for them in the former world, or . 
state of the Jewish church, but they who in that man- 
ner despised Moses and his law, though delivered but 
by angels, died without mercy. Num. xv. 27. SO, 31. 
Heb. ii. 2 — 4. so in the world to come, or in the 
evangelical church, (though grace should tlierein be 
more abundantly discovered and administered unto 
men,) yet tiie same law should continue still, as we 
find it did, Heb. ii. 2—5. vi. 4—6. x. 26—28. neither 
the open enemies of Christ in the one, nor the false 

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ON H08SA XIV. — ^VBRSES 8, 4. 167 

pTofessors ci Christ in the other, committing tluB sin, 
should be capable of pardon. 

This doctrine of apostaey or backaliding, though 
worthy of a more large explication ; I shall here con* 
elude with adding but two words more. 

We should beware above ail other sins, of this, of 
faiUng in soul as old Eli did In body, backward, and so 
hazaiwng our salvation; if once we have shaken 
hands with sin, never take acquaintance with it any 
moxe, but say as Israel here, '^ What have I to do any 
move with idols V The church should be like mount 
Zion* that cannot be moved. It is a sad and sick 
temper of a church to toss from one side to another, 
and then especially when she should be healed, to be 
carried abo^ witn every wind. 

Again, we should not be so terrified by any sin^ 
which our soul mourns and labours under, and our 
heart tumeth from, as thereby to be withheld from 
going to the physician for pardon and healing. 
Had he not great power and mercy, did he not 
love freely, without respect (^ persons, and pardon 
freely without respect of sins, we might then be 
afrud of going to him : but when he extendeth for- 
giveness to all kinds, iniquity, traofisgression, and sin, 
Exod. xxxiv. 6. and hath actusdly pardoned the great- 
est sinners, Manasses^ Mary Magdalen, Paul, publi* 
caii8» harlots, backsliders; we should, though not 
presnme hereupon to turn God's mercy into poison, 
and his grace into wantonness, (for mercy itself will 
not save those sinners that hold fiist sin, and will not 
^rsake it,) yet take heed of despauing, or entertain^ 
ing low dioughts. c^ the love and mercy of God ; for 
such examples as these are set forth for the encourage- 
ment of all that shall ever believe unto eternal life, 
1 Tim. i, 16. And the thoughts and ways which Goi 

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hath to pardon sin, are ahove our thoughts and ways 
whereby we look on them in their guilt and greatness, 
many times, as unpardonable ; and, therefore, are fit 
matter for our faith, even against sense, to believe and 
rely upon, Isa. Iv. Ivii. Iviii. 

Now foUoweth the fountain of this mercy, " I will 
love them freely." God's love is a most free and 
bountiful love, having no motive or foundation but 
within itself, and his free love and grace is the ground 
of all his other mercies to his people ; he showeth mercy 
on whom he will, and because he will show mercy. 
From the beginning to the end of our salvation, no- 
thing is primarily active but free grace : freely loved, 
Deut. vii. 7, 8. freely chosen, Eph. i. 5, 6. Christ, the 
gift of free love, John iii. 16. his obedience freely 
accepted for us, and bestowed upon us, Rom. v. 15. 18. 
justification free, Rom. iii. 24. adoption free, Eph. 
i. 5. faith and repentance free, Phil. i. 29. 2 Tim. 
ii. 25. good works free, Eph. ii. 10. salvation free. 
Tit. iii. 5. Acts x v. 1. Thus the foundation of all 
mercies is free love. We do not first give to God that 
he may render to us again. We turn, we pray, we 
covenant, we repent, we are holy, we are healed, only 
because he loves us : and he loves us, not because he 
sees any thing lovely or amiable in us, but because he 
will show the absoluteness of his own will, and the un - 
searchableness of his own counsel towards us. We are 
not originally denominated good by any thing which 
floweth from us, or is done by us ; but by that which 
is bestowed upon us. Our goodness is not the motive 
of his love, but his love the fountain of our goodness. 
None, indeed, are healed and saved, but Uiose who 
repent and return ; but repentance is only a condition, 
and that freely given by God, disposing the subject 
for salvation ; not a cause moving or procuring God 


ON H09SA XIV. — VSRSES 3, 4. 169 

to save tts. It is necessary as the means to the end, not 
as the cause to the effect. That which looks least free 
of any other act of God, his rewarding of obedience, 
is all and only mercy. When we sow in richteousness, 
we must reap in mercy, Hos. x. 12. When he ren- 
ders according to our works, it is because of his mercy, 
Psa. Ixii. 12. 

This is the solid foundation of all christian comfort, 
that God loves freely. Were his love to us to be 
measured by our fruitfidness or carriages towards him, 
each hour and moment might stagger our hope ; but 
he is therefore pleased to have it all of grace, that the 
promise might be made sure, Rom. iv. 16. This com- 
forts us against the guilt of the greatest sins ; for love 
and free grace can pardon what it will. This comforts 
us against the accusations of Satan drawn from our 
own unworthiness. It is true, I am unworthy, and 
Satan cannot show me unto myself more vile, than 
without his accusations I will acknowledge myself 
to be : but that love which gave Christ freely, doth 
g^ve in him more worthiness than there is or can be 
unworthiness in me. This comforts us in the assured 
hope of glory, because when he loves, he loves to the 
end, and nothing can separate from his love. Tliis 
comforts us in all afflictions, that the free love of God, 
who hath predestinated us thereunto, will wisely order 
it ^11 unto the good of his servants, Rom. viii. 29. Heb. 
xii. 6. 

Our duty therefore it is, 

1 . To labour for assurance of this iVee love. It will 
assist us in all duties : it will arm us against all tempta- 
tions : it will answer all objections that can be made 
against the soul's peace : it will sustain us in all con- 
ditions which the saddest of times can bring us unto. 
" If God be for us, who can be against us T* Though 

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thouftands should be against us to hate us, yet none 
shall be against us to hurt us. 

2. If God love us freely, we should love him thank- 
fully, 1 John iv. 19. and let love be the salt to sea* 
son all our sacrifices. For as no benefit is saving 
unto us which doth not proceed from love in him, so 
no duty is pleasing unto him which doth not proceed 
from love in us, 1 John v. 8. 

8. Plead this firee love and grace m prayer ; when 
we beg pardon, nothing is too great for love to for- 
give : when we beg grace and holiness, nothing is too 
good for love to grant. There is not any one thing 
which faith can manage onto more spiritual advan- 
tages, than the free grace and love of God in Christ. 

4. Yet we must so magnify the love of God, as that 
we turn not free grace into wantonness. There is a 
corrupt generation of men, who under pretence of ex- 
alting grace, do put disgrace upon the law of God, by 
taking away the mandatory power thereof from those 
that are under grace» a doctrine most extremely con- 
trary to the nature of this love. For God's love to us, 
works love in us to him : and our love to him is this, 
that we keep his commandments ; and to keep a com- 
mandment is to confirm and to subject my conscience 
with willingness and delight unto the nde and per- 
ceptive power of that commandment Take away the 
obligation of the law upon conscience as a rale of life, 
and you take away from our love to God the very matter 
about which the obedience thereof should be conversant. 
It is no diminution to love that a man is bound to obe- 
dience, (nay it cannot be called obedience ^ I be not 
bound unto it,) but herein the excellency of our love to 
God is commended, diat whereas other men are so bound 
by the law that they fret at it, and swell against, and 
would be glad to be exempted from it, they who love 

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ON HOtSA XXV.— -VERSES 3, 4. 171 

God, and know hk love to them, deiigiit to be thui 
bound, and find infinitely more sweetness in the strict 
rule of God's holy law, than any wiclced man can do 
in that presumptuous liberty, wherein he diows faim-> 
self to shake off and break the cords of it. 

Now ksdy, when we return with sound repentanee 
unto God, then God is pleased to give more l^n or- 
dinary tastes of the sweetness of his love, by remov- 
ing judgments, which are the fruits of his anger, firom 
us. This point falls in with what was handled before 
on the second verse. Therefore I shall conclude with 
these two notes : 

(1.) That m all iudgments God will hme m look 
on them as fruits of his anger, and iaiBe more notice in 
them of his displeasure tbui our own sufferings. 
When wrath is gone out, the sword drawn, thousawls 
and ten thouaaiids slain in our coasts ; Israel given to 
the s^oil, and Jacob unto robbers ; a land set on fire 
with civil flames, and none able to quench them ; a 
kingdom divided within itself; a church which was 
sometimes Hie asylum for other exiled md afflicted 
christians to fly for shelter unto, miserably torn by 
the foolish and unnatural divisions of brethren, and 
dangerously threatened by the policy and power of 
the common enemy, who studies how to improve these 
divisions, to the ruin of those that torment them ; our 
work is to make this conclusion, ** Our God is 
angry ;" a God that loves freely, who is infinite in 
mercy and pity, who doth not afflict willingly, noi 
grieve the children of men ; this should be our great 
est affliction ; and the removal of this anger by a 
universal reformation and conversion unto him our 
greatest business. And I do verily believe that Eng- 
land must never think of out-living or breaking 
tlirough this anger of God, this critical judgment that 

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is upon it, 80 as to return to that cold and formal 
complexion, that Laodicean temper that she was in 
before, till she have so publicly and generally repented 
of all those civil disorders which removed the bounds 
and brought dissipation upon public justice : and of 
all those ecclesiastical disorders which let in corrup- 
tions in doctrine, superstitions in worship, abuses in 
government, discountenancing of the power of god- 
liness in the most zealous professors of it, as that our 
reformation may be as conspicuous as our disorders 
have been, and it may appear to all the world that 
God hath washed away the filth, and purged the blood 
of England from the midst thereof by the spirit of 
judgment, and by the spirit of burning. 

(2.) That God's love is the true ground of remov-> 
ing judgments in mercy from a people. Let all 
human counsels be ever so deep, and armies ever so 
active, and cares ever so vigilant, and instruments 
ever so unanimous, if God's love come not in, nothing 
of all these can do a nation any good at all. Those 
that are most interested in God's love, shall certainly 
be most secured against his judgments. Hither our 
eyes, our prayers, our thoughts must be directed. 
Lord love us, delight in us, choose us for thyself; 
and then, though counsels, and treasures, and armies, 
and men, and horses, and all second causes fail us, 
though Satan rage, and hell threaten, and the foun- 
dations of the eartfi be shaken ; though neither the 
vine, nor the olive, nor the fig-tree, nor the field, nor 
the pastures, nor the herds, nor the stall yield any 
supplies, yet we will rejoice in the Lord ; and glory 
in the God of our salvation ; sin shall be healed, anger 
shall be removed ; nothing shall be able to separate 
us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our 

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In these verses is contained Crod's answer unto the 
Becond part of Israel's petition, wherein they desired 
him to do them good, or to receive them graciously ; 
and here God promiseth them several singular bless- 
ings, set forth by several meta{^rs and similitudes^ 
all answering to the name of Ephraim, and the an- 
cient promises made wito him, Deui xxxiii^ 13 — 17. 
opposite to the many contrary courses threatened 
in the former parts of the prophecy under metaphors 
of a contrary import. Here is the dew of grace, con- 
trary to the morning cloud and the eady dew that 
passeth away, Hos. xiii. 3. lilies, olives, vines, spices, 
contrary to judgments of nettles, thorns, thistles, 
chap. ix. 6. x. 8^ spreading roots, contrary mito dry 
roots, chap. ix. 16. a firuitnil vine bringing forUi ex- 
cellent wine, contrary to an empty vine bringing 
fruit only to itself, that is, so sour and imsavoury, as 
is not worth the gathering, chap. x. 1. com growing, 
instead of com taken quite away, chi^p. ii. 9. instead of 
no stalk, no bud^ no meal, chap. viii. 7. fruit promised 

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instead of no fruit threatened, chap. ix. 16. wine pro- 
mised in opposition to the failing of wine, chap. ix. 2. 
ii. 9. Sweet wine opposite to sour drink, chap, 
iv. 18. safe dwelling instead of no dwelling, chap, 
ix. 3. hranches growing and spreading, instead of 
branches consumed, chap. xi. 6. green trees instead of 
dry springs, chap. xiii. 5. And all these fruits, the 
fruits as of Lebanon, which was of all other parts of 
that country the most fertile mountain, full of various 
kinds of the most excellent trees, cedars, cypress, olive, 
and divers others, affording rich gums and balsams ; 
full also of all kinds of the most medicinal and aro- 
matic herbs, sending forth a most fragrant odour, 
whereby all harmful and venomous creatures were 
driven &om harbouring there : and in the valleys of 
that mountain were most rich grounds for pasture, 
com, and vineyards, as the learned in their descrip- 
tions of the holy land have observed. 

Tlie original of all these blessings is the heavenly 
dew of God's grace and favour (alluding to that 
abundance of dew which fell on that mountain) de- 
scending upon the church, as upon a garden, bringing 
forth lilies ; as upon a forest, strengthening the cedars ; 
as upon a vineyard, spreading abroad the branches ; 
as upon an oliveyard, making the trees thereof green 
and fruitinl ; and as on a rich field, receiving the corn. 
Here is spiritual beauty, the beauty of the lily, ex- 
ceeding that of Solomon in all his glory ; spiritual 
stability, the roots of the cedars and other goodly 
trees in that mountain ; spiritual odours and spices of 
Lebanon ; spiritual fruitfulness, and that of all sorts 
and kinds for the comfort of life. The fruit of the 
field, bread to strengthen ; the fruit of the olive-trees, 
oil to refresh ; the fruit of the vineyard, wine to make 
glad the heart of man, Psa. civ. 15. 

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ON HOSSA XlV.-r-VBRSKS 5 — 7. 175 

We esteem him a very rich man, and most excel- 
lently accommodated, who hath gardens for pleasure, 
and fields for corn and pastm'e, and woods for fuel, for 
structure, for defence, for beauty and delight ; and vine- 
yards for wine and oil, and all other conveniences both 
for the necessities and delights of a plentiful life. Thus 
is the church here set forth unto us as such a wealthy 
man, furnished with the unsearchable riches of Christ, 
with all kind of blessings both for sanctity and safety ; 
as the apostle praiseth God the Father of our Lord 
Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual 
blessings in heavenly places in Christ, namely, elec- 
tion to eternal life, adoption to the condition of sons, 
and to a glorious inheritance, redemption from misery 
unto blessedness, remission of sins, knowledge of his 
will, holiness, and unblamableness of life, and the 
seal of the Holy Spirit of promise, as we find them 
particularly enumerated, Eph. i. 3. 13. 

The words thus opened, do first afford us one 
general observation, in that God singleth out so many 
excellent good things by name in relation to that 
general petition, *' Do us good." Tliat God many times 
answereth prayer abundantly beyond the petitions of 
his people. They prayed at large only for good, 
leaving it (as it becometh us who know not always 
what is good for ourselves) to his holy will and wis- 
dom in what manner and measure to do good unto 
tliem. And he answers them in particular with all 
kind of good things : as in the former petition they 
prayed in general for the forgiveness of sin, and God 
in particular promiseth the healing of their rebellions, 
which was the greatest of their sins. God many times 
answers the prayers of his people, as he did the seed 
of Isaac, Gen. xxvi. 12. with a hundredfold increase. 
As God's word never returns empty unto liim, so thc^ 

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prayers of his servants never return empty unto them ; 
and usually the crop of prayer is greater than the seed 
out of which it grew, as the putting in of a little water 
into a pump makes way to the drawing out of a great 
deal more. Isaac and Rebecca had lived twenty 
years together without any children, and he grew now 
in years, for he was forty years old before he married ; 
hereupon he solemnly prays to God in behalf of his 
wife, because she was barren, and God gave him more 
than it is probable he expected, for he gave him two 
sons at a birth. Gen. xxv. 21, 22. As the cloud which 
riseth out of the earth many times in thin and insen* 
sibie vapours, ^lleth down in great and abundant 
showers ; so our prayers which ascend weak and nar- 
row, return with a full and enlarged answer. God 
deals in this point with his children, as Joseph did 
with his brethren in Egypt ; he did not only put com 
into their sacks, but returned the money which they 
had brought to purchase it, Gen. xlii. 25. So he dealt 
with Solomon, he did not only give him wisdom and 
gifts of government, which he asked, but further gave 
him both riches and honour, which he asked not, 
1 Kings iii. 13. The people of Israel when they were 
distressed by the Ammonites, besought the Lord for 
help ; he turns back their prayers, and sends them to 
their idols to help them ; they humble themselves, and 
put away their idols, and pray again, and the highest 
pitch that their petitions mounted unto, was, *' Lord, 
we have sinned, do unto us whatsoever seemeth good 
unto thee, only deliver us, we pray thee, this day," 
Judg. X. 15. and God did answer this prayer beyond 
the contents of it ; he did not only deliver them from 
the enemy, and so save them, but subdued the enemy 
under them, and deUvered him into their hands ; he 
did not only give them the relief they desired, but a 

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ON HOSEA XIV. VERSES 5 — 7. 177 

glorious victory beyond their desires, Jiulg. xi. 22. 
God deals with his servants, as the prophet did with 
the woman of Shunem, when he bid her ask what she 
needed, and tell him what she would have hira to do 
for the kindness she had shown to him, and she found 
not any thing to request at his hands ; he sends for 
her again, and makes her a free promise of that which 
she most wanted and desired, and tells her that God 
would give her a son, 2 Kings iv. 16. So many tiroes 
God is pleased to give his servants such things as they 
forget to ask, or gives them the things which they ask, 
in a fuller measure than their own desires durst pro- 
pose to them. David in his troubles asked life of God, 
and would have esteemed it a great mercy only to 
have been delivered from the rear of his enemies; 
and God doth not only answer him according to the 
desire of his heart in that particular, and above it too, 
for he gave him length of days for ever and ever, but 
further settled the crown upon his head, and added 
honour and majesty unto Ids life, Psa. xxi. 2 — 5. 

And the reasons hereof are principally two. 

1. We beg of God according to the sense and 
knowledge which we have of our own wants, and 
according to the measure of that love which we bear 
unto ourselves. The greater our love is to ourselves, 
the more active and importunate will our petitions be 
for such good things as we need : but God answers 
prayers according to his knowledge of us, and accord- 
ing to the love which he beareth unto us. Now God 
knows what things we want much better than we do 
ourselves, and he loves our souls much better than we 
love them ourselves, and therefore he gives us more 
and better things than our own prayers know how to 
ask of him. A little child will beg none but trifles 
and mesgi things of his fathet, because he hath not 

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understanding to look higher, or to VQilue things that 
are more excellent; but his father knowing better 
what is good for him, bestows on him education, 
trains liim unto learning and virtue, that he may be 
fit to manace and enjoy that inheritance which he 
provides for him : so, '^ We know not what to ads as 
we ought,'' Bom. viii. 26. and when we do know, ofur 
spirits are much straitened, we have bat a finite and 
narrow love unto ourselves. But God's knowledge 
is infinite, and his love is infinite, and according unto 
these are the distributions of bis mercy. Even the 
apostle himself when he was in afiSiction and bufifeted 
by the messenger of Satan, and vexed with a thorn in 
the flesh, besought the Lord for nothing but tJiat it 
might depart from him ; but God had a hr better 
answer in store to the apostle's prayar, and purposed 
to do more for him than he desired, namely, to give 
him a sufiiciency of grace to support him, and to 
magnify his strength in the infirmity of his servant, 
2 Cor. xii. 9. When the prophet had encouraged men 
to seek the Lord, and to turn unto him, and that upon 
this assurance, that he will not only hear petitions for 
mercy and forgiveness, but will multiply to pardon, 
that is, will pardon more sins than we can confess, (for 
with him diere is not only mercy, but plenteous re- 
demption, Psa. cxxx. 7.) he further strengtheneth our 
faith and encourageth our obedience unto this duty, 
by the consideration of the thoughts of Crod, to wit, 
his thoughts of love, mercy, and peace towards us ; 
" My tlM>ught8 are not your thoughts, neither are 
your ways my ways, saith the I^rd; for as the 
heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways 
higher than your ways, and my thoughts Uian your 
thoughts," Isa. Iv. 7 — 9. He can pardon beyond our 
petitions, because his thoughts of mercy towards us 

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ON H08EA XIV.— VERSES 5 — 7. 179 

are beyond our apprehensions. See the like place, 
Jer. xxix. 10 — 12. 

2. God answers prayers not always with respect to 
the narrow compass of our weak deshres, but wiUi 
respect to his own honour, and to the declaration of 
his own greatness ; for he promiseth to hear us that 
we may glorify him, Psa. 1. 15. Therefore he is 
pleased to exceed our petitions, and to do for us 
abundantly above what we ask or think, that our hearts 
may be more abundantly enlarged, and our mouths 
wide open in rendering honour unto him. When 
Perilhis, a favourite of Alexander, begged of him a 
portion for his daughter, the king a^^inted that fifty 
talents should be given unto him, and he answered 
that ten would be sufficient ; the king replied that ten 
were enough for Perillus to ask, but not enough for 
Alexander to grant : so God is {leased many times to 
give more than we ask, tibat we may look upon it not 
only aa aui act of mercy, but as an act of honour ; and 
to teach as in all our prayers to move God as well by 
his glory as by his mercy : so Moses did, when he 
prayed for pardon unto Israel, lest God's name 
should be blasphemed, Num. xiv. 15 — 17. So Joshua 
did when i«rael turned their backs before their ene- 
mies, " What wilt thou do unto thy great name ?" 
Josh. vii. 9. So Solomon in his prayer at the dedi- 
cation of the Temple, '^ Hear thou in heaven thy 
dwelling place, and do according to all that the 
stranger calleth to thee for, that all the people of the 
earth may know thy name," 1 Kings viii. 4d. So 
David in his, for Israel, and for the performance 
of God's promise to the seed of David, " Do as 
thou hast said, let it even be established, that thy 
nanae may be magnified for ever,'* 1 Chron. xvii. 
23, 24. So Asa, " O Lord thou art our God, let not 

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man prevail against thee/' 2 Chron. xiv. 11. So Je- 
hoshaphat, ** Art not thou God in heaven ? and rulest 
not thou over all the kingdoms of the heathen ? and 
in thine hand is there not povi^er and might, so that 
none is ahle to withstand thee T* &c. 2 Chron. xx. 6. 
So Hezekiah, when he spread the blasphemies of Sen- 
nacherib before the Lonl, *' O Lord our God, save us 
from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may 
know that thou art the Lord, even thou only," Isa. 
xxxvii. 20. So the church of God in the time of dis- 
tress, '* Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory 
of thy name, and deliver and purge away our sins for 
thv name's sake ; wherefore should the heathen say. 
Where is their God ?" Psa. IxxLx. 9, 10. As every 
creature of God was made for liis glory, Prov. xvi. 4. 
Rom. xi. 36. so every attribute of God doth work and 
put forth itself for his glory. If he show mercy, it is 
to show the riches of his glory, Horn. ix. 23. £ph. 
i. 11, 12. If he execute justice, it is to make his 
nower known, Rom. ix. 17. 22. 2Thes8. i. 9. When 
he putteth forth his power, and doeth terrible things, 
it is to make his name known, Isa. Ixiv. I — 3. If he 
engage his truth, and make his promises yea and 
amen, it is for his own glory, and tnat his name may 
be magnified in doing what he hath said, 2 Cor. L 20. 
2 Sam. vii. 25, 26. Exod. iii. 14,15. xii. 41. Josh. xxi. 45. 
Whensoever, therefore, we pray unto God, and in our 
prayers implore his mercy on us, his justice on his ene- 
mies, his truth to be fulfilled, his power, wisdom, or any 
other attribute to be manifested towards his people, the 
highest and most prevailing medium we can use, is 
the glory of his own name. God's ultimate end in 
working must needs be our strongest argument in 
praying, because therein it appears that we seek his 
interest in our petitions, as well, and above our own. 

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This serveth to encourage us unto prayer, because 
God doth not only hear and answer prayers, which is 
a sufficient motive unto his servants to call upon him, 
** O thou that hearest prayers, unto thee shall all flesh 
come," Psa. Ixv. 2. Ixvi. 20. Ixxxvi. 5 — 7. cii. 17. but 
also because he oftentimes exceedeth the modesty, tlie 
ignorance, the fearfulness of our requests, by giving 
unto us more than we ask. When poor men make 
requests unto us, we usually answer them as the echo 
doth the voice, the answer cuts off half the petition. 
The hypocrite mentioned by the apostle, James ii. 
15, 16. when he saw a brother or sister naked or 
destitute of daily food, would bid him be wanned or 
filled, bufin the mean time give him nothing that was 
needful, and so did rather mock than answer their re- 
quests. We shall seldom find amongst men JaePs 
courtesies, Judg. v. 25. giving milk to those that ask 
water, except it be as hers was, an entangling benefit, 
the better to introduce a mischief: there are not many 
Naamans among us, who when you beg of them one 
talent, will force you to take two, 2 Kings v. 23. But 
God's answer to our prayers is like a multiplying glass, 
which renders the request much greater in the answer 
than it was in the prayer. As when we cast a stone 
into the water, though it be but little in itself, yet the 
circles which come from it spread wider and wider till 
it fill the whole pond : so our petitions, though very 
weak as they come from us, and craving but some 
one or other good thing, yet finding way to the foun- 
tain of life, and unsearchable treasure or mercy which 
is in Christ, are usually answered with many and more 
spreading benefits. The trumpet exceedingly strength- 
eneth the voice which passeth through it ; it goes in 
at a narrow passage, and the voice is but a silent 
breath as it comes from the mouth ; but it goes out 

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wider with a doubled and multiplied vigour : so our 
prayers usually go up narrow to God, but they come 
down with enlarged answers from him again ; as the 
root is but of one colour, when the flower which 
groweth out of it is beautified with variety. 

Now this should be a great encouragement unto us 
to call upon God with sincerity of heart, because he 
multiplieth to pardon, because we know not the num- 
bers of his salvation, Psa. Ixxi. 15. we cannot count 
the sum of his thoughts towards us, Psa. cxxxix. 17, 18. 
If there were any man so wealthy that it were all one 
with him to give pounds or pence, and who usually 
when asked for silver, would give gold, every in- 
digent and necessitous person would wait upon this 
man's mercy. Now, it is as easy with God to give 
talents as ^rthings, as easy to over-answer prayers, as 
to answer them at all. It is as easy to the sun to fill 
a vast palace as a little closet with light ; as easy to 
the sea to fill a channel as a bucket with water. " He 
can satisfy with goodness, and answer with wonderful 
and terrible things," Psa. Ixv. 4, 5. O who would 
not make requests unto such a God, whose usual an- 
swer unto prayer is, " Be it unto thee as thou wilt T* 
Matt. XV. 28. Nay, who answers us beyond our wills 
and thoughts, Eph. iii. 20. and measureth forth mercy 
by the greatness of his own grace, and not the narrow- 
ness of our desires. The shekel belonging to the 
sanctuary was, as many learned men think, in weight 
double to the common shekel which was used in civil 
matters ; to note unto us, that as God expects from us 
double the care in things belonging unto him above 
what we use in the things of the world, so he usually 
measureth back double unto us again ; good measure, 
pressed down, shaken together, and running over into 
our bosoms. When the man sick of the palsy was 

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carried unto Christ to be healed, Christ did beyond 
the expectation of those that brought him, for he not 
only cured him of his disease, but of his sin, gave him 
not only health of body, but peace of conscience ; 
first, "Be of good cheer, thy sins be forgiven thee ;** 
and then, " Arise, take up thy bed, and go to thy 
house," Matt. ix. 2. 6. Tlie thief on the cross be- 
sought Christ to remember him when he came into 
his kingdom, but Christ answers him far beyond his 
petition, assuring him that the very same day he should 
be with him in paradise, Luke xxiii. 42, 43. The poor 
man at the gate of the temple begged for nothing of 
Peter and John but a small alms, but they gave him 
an answer to his request far more worth tlian any other 
alms could be, namely, such an alms as caused him to 
stand in need of alms no longer, restored him in the 
name of Christ unto sound strength, that he '* walked, 
and leaped, and praised God," Acts iii. 6. In like 
manner doth God answer the prayers of his people, 
not always it may be in the kind, and to the express 
will of him that asketh, but for the better, and conse- 
quently more to his will than himself expressed. 

Also, this should encourage us in prayer to beg for 
an answer, not according to the defect and narrow- 
ness of our own low conceptions, but according to the 
fulness of God's own abundant mercies* It would not 
please one of us if a beggar should ask of us gold, 
or jewels, silk, or dainties, we should esteem such a 
petitioner fuller of pride and impudence than of want. 
But God delfghts to have his people beg great things 
of him, to implore the performance of exceeding great 
and precious promises, 2 Pet. i. 4. to pray for a share 
in the unsearchable riches of Christ, to know things 
which pass knowledge, and to be filled with the fulness 
of God, Eph. iii. 8, 16. 18. to ask *' things which 

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eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor hath entered 
into the heart of man to conceive," 1 Cor. fi. 9. to 
ask not as beggars only for an alms, but as children 
for an inheritance, Rom. viii. 15. 17. Gral. iv. 6, 7. 
not to ask something or a few things, but in every 
thing to let our requests be made known unto God, 
Phil. iv. 6. because with Christ he giveth us freely all 
tilings, Rom. viii. 32. even all things richly to enjoy, 
1 Tim. vi. 17. As Alexander the great was well 
pleased with Anaxarchus the philosopher, when he de- 
sired a hundred talents of his treasurer ; he doth well, 
saith he, in asking it, and understands his friend 
aright, who hath one both able and willing to give 
him so great a gift; God allows his children a 
spiritual and heavenly ambition to covet earnestly the 
best gifts, 1 Cor. xii. 31. to aspire unto a kingdom, 
and accordingly to put up great and honourable re- 
quests unto him. To think what great things Christ 
hath purchased, what great things God hath promised 
and proposed to us, and to regulate our prayers more 
by the merits and riches of Christ, and by the great- 
ness of God's mercies, than by those apprehensions 
which we cannot but have of our own unworthiness. 

Now next from the particulars of the text, though 
many particular observations might be raised, yet I 
shall reduce them unto one general, which may com- 
prehend the particulars; namely, that whom God 
loves and pardons, upon them he poureth forth the 
benediction of his grace and Spirit, a^ the dew of 
heaven to quicken them unto a holy and fruitful con 
versation. The general promises set down before, I 
will heal, I will love, are here further amplified by 
many excellent metaphors, and elegant figures, which 
are nine in number, multiplied into so many particu- 
lars, partly because of the difficulty of the promise to 

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ON HOS£A XIV. VERSES 5 — 7 185 

be believed, which is therefore severally inculcated and 
represented: partly because of the dejectednessoftlie 
people under the variety of their former suflFerings, 
who are therefore by variety of mercies to be raised 
up and revived ; and partly to represent the perfection 
and completeness of the blessings intended, which 
should be of all sorts, and to all purposes ; and the 
foundation of all the rest is tliis, that God promiseth 
to be as the dew unto Israel : for Ephraim having 
been cursed with much drought and barrenness ; now 
when God blesseth him again, he promiseth to be unto 
him as dew is to the weary and tlnrsty ground, which 
so refresheth it, that the fruits thereof do grow and 
flourish again. Lilies, flowers, trees, vines, com are 
very apt, (especially in such hot countries as Judea,) 
without much refreshing dew and showers from 
heaven, to dry up and wither away : so would 
Ephraim have been quite consumed by the heavy 
wrath of God, if he should not with the supplies of his 
grace and Holy Spirit, and with his heavenly refresh- 
ments and loving countenance revive them again. 

Dew, in the natural signification of it, importeth a 
comforting, refreshing, encouraging, and calling forth 
the fruits of the earth, as being of a gentle, insinuat- 
ing virtue, which leisurely soaketh into the ground ; 
and in that sense is mentioned as a blessing. Gen. 
xxvii. 28. In the mystical and spiritusd sense of it, 
it signifieth Christ, Psa. Ixxii. 6. who by his holy 
i¥ord and heavenly grace dropping down with distil- 
ling upon the souls of men, Deut. xxxii. 2. Job xxix. 
22, 23. by his princely favour and loving countenance, 
which is as a cloud of the latter rain, Prov. xvi. 15. 
xix. 12. by his heavenly righteousness and most 
spiritual efficacy, Isa. xxvi. 19. xlv. 8. doth so quicken, 
v^etate, and revive the hearts of men, that they, like 

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dew from the womb of the morning, are born in great 
abundance unto him, as multitudes of men, and be- 
• lievers use to be expressed in scripture by drops of 
dew, Psa. ex. 3. Mic, v. 7. In one word, what dew 
is to the fields, gardens, vineyards, flowers, fruits 
of the earth, after a hot and a scorching day, that the 
favour, word, grace, loving countenance, and Holy 
Spirit of Christ will be to the drooping and afflicted 
consciences of his people. 

From this metaphor then we learn, 

1. That we are naturally dry, barren, fruitless, and 
utterly unable to do any good, to bring forth any fruit 
unto God, like a heathy and parched land subject to 
the scorching terrors of the wrath of God, and to his 
burning indignation. So Christ compares Jerusalem 
unto a dry, withered tree fitted unto judgment, Luke 
xxiii. 31. And he assureth us that " out of him we 
can do nothing," John xv. 4, 5. In us of ourselves 
there dwelleth no good thing, Rom. vii. 18. we are 
not of ourselves as of ourselves, suflicient unto any- 
thing, 2 Cor. iii. 5. He is the sun that healeth us, 
Mai. iv. 2. he the rain that dispose th us, Psa. Ixxii. 6. 
he the root that deriveth life and nourishment upon 
us. Rev. xxii. 16. As natural, so much more spiritual 
fruitfulness, hath its ultimate resolution into him, who 
alone is the Father of the rain, and begetteth the drops 
of dew, Hos. ii. 21, 22. Job xxxviii. 28. 

2. That the grace of God is like dew to the barren 
and parched hearts of men to make them fruitful. 
And there are many things wherein the proportion and 
resemblance stands. 

(1.) None can give it but God, it comes from 
above, it is of a celestial original, the nativity thereof 
is from the womb of the morning. " Are there any 
amongst the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause 

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ON H08EA XIV.—- VERSES 5 — 7. 187 

rain? or can the heavens give showers? Art not 
tliou he, O Lord our God ? for thou hast made ail these 
things," Jer. xiv. 22. And the like we may say in a 
more strict and peculiar sense of regeneration, that it 
is a spiritual and heavenly birth ; it is not of blood, 
nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, 
but of God. There is no concurrence or active 
assistance of the flesh, or of any natural abilities 
unto a birth which is merely spiritual, John i. 13. 
James i. 17, 18. Therefore Christ was pleased to go 
up into heaven, before he shed forth his Holy Spirit 
in abundance on the church, John vii. 39. xvi. 17. 
Acts i. 4,5. to teach us, first, that our conversion and 
sanctification comes from above, by a divine teaching, 
by a spiritual conviction, by a supernatural and om- 
nipotent attraction, by a heavenly calling, by the will 
of him who alone can give a will unto us. No voice 
can be heard by those that are dead, but " the voice 
of the Son of man," John vi. 44, 45. xvi. 8 — 11. Heb. 
iii. 1 . James i. 19. Phil. ii. 13. John v. 25. Heb. xii. 25. 
And withal to acquaint us whither the affections and 
conversations of men thus sanctified should tend, 
namely, unto heaven, as every thing works towards its 
original, and every part inclines unto the whole. Col. 
iii. 1, 2. PliiL iii. 20. With allusion unto this meta- 
phor of dew or rain, the Holy Spirit is said to be poured 
out upon the churches. Acts ii. 17. Tit. iii. 6. and the 
word of grace is frequently compared unto rain. As 
it is the seed by which we are enabled to be fruitful. 
Mat. xiii. 18. so it is the rain which softeneth the 
heart, that it may be the better wrought upon by that 
seminal virtue, Isa. Iv. 10, 11. Heb. vi. 7. whereas 
false teachers are called clouds without water, Jude 
12. They have no fructifying virtue in them. 
None can give grace but God ; it is heavenly in its 

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nature, therefore it is so in its original ; it stays not 
for man, Mic. v. 7. It depends not on the wills, con- 
currencies» preparations, or dispositions which arise 
out of us, but it wholly preventeth* us, we are made 
active by it, but we are not at all antecedently active 
iu fitting or disposing ourselves for it 

(2.) It is the fruit of a serene, clear, and quiet 
heaven ; for dew never falleth either in scorching or 
tempestuous weather, as philosophers have observed ; 
in like manner, the grace, favour, and blessings of 
God are the fruits of his reconciled affection towards 
us. Upon the wicked he raineth storm and tempest, 
he showereth down on them the fury of his wrath, and 
shows himself dark, cloudy, gloomy, terrible unto 
them, Psa. xi. 6. Ixxxiii. i5. Job xx. 23. Nah. i. 
3. 8. But unto those that fear his name he openeth 
a clear and a gracious countenance, and being re- 
conciled unto them, sheddeth abroad his love into 
their hearts, and his peace into their consciences, like 
Gideon's dew on the fleece and on the ground, as a 
special evidence of his grace; and, therefore, the 
Psalmist compares the love and peace that is amongst 
brethren unto dew, Psa. cxxxiii. 3. which ever falleth 
from a calm, serene, and quiet sky. 

(3.) It is abundant and innumerable, who can 
number the drops of dew on the ground, or the hairs 
of little rain ? (for so they are called in the original, 
because of their smallness and number, Deut. xxxii 2.) 
so Hushai expresseth the multitude of all Israel, ** We 
will light upon him as the dew falleth upon the ground," 
2 Sam. xvii. 12. and the multitudes of believers are said 
to be bom unto Christ by his sending forth the rod 
of his strength, " As dew from the womb of the 
morning," Psa ex. 3. as we find historically verified, 
* Goeth before. 

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Acts ii. 41. V. 14. 16. vi. 7. ix. 31. 42. xix. 20. Such is 
the grace and favour of God unto his people after their 
conversion ; unsearchable, it cannot be comprehended, 
or measured, nor brought under any number or account, 
Psa. Ixxi. 15. cxxxix. 17, 18. Christ is compared 
unto manna, he vtras the bread that came down from 
heaven, John vi. 50, 51. and manna came in mighty 
abundance, so that there was enough for every one to 
gather, £xod. xvi. 16. It had dew under it, and dew 
over it, as we may conjecture by comparing Exod. 
xvi. 14. with Num. xi. 9. whereunto the Holy Ghost 
seemeth to allude when he speaks of the hidden manna, 
Bev. ii. 17. though that may likewise refer unto the 
pot of manna which was kept in the tabernacle, Exod. 
xvi. 32, 33. Heb. ix. 4. as our life is said to be hid 
with Christ now he is in heaven. Col. iii. 3. By this 
dew coming along vidth manna is intimated, that the 
mercies of God in Christ, his daily mercies, (which 
are said, with allusion, I suppose, unto this niianna, to 
be renewed every morning. Lam. iii. 23.) and his 
hidden mercies, to wit, the inward comforts of his 
grace and Spirit, are all innumerable and past finding 
out. We may say of his mercies, as the psalmist of 
his commandments, I have found an end of all per- 
fection, but these are exceeding broad, more than eye 
hath seen or ear heard, or the heart itself is able to 
comprehend, 1 Cor. ii. 9. 

(4.) It is silent, slow, insensible ; while it is falling 
you cannot say here it is : it deceives the eye, and is 
too subtle for that to see it : it deceives the ear, and 
is too silent for that to hear it : it deceives the face, 
and is too thin and spiritual for that to feel it. You 
see it when it is come, but you cannot observe how it 
comes. In this manner was God pleased to fill the 
world with the knowledge of his gospel, and with the 

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grace of iiis Spirit, by quiet, small, and, as it were, by 
insensible means : '' The kingdom of God came not 
with observation," Luke xvii. 20, 21. that is, with 
any visible, notable splendour, or external pomp, (as 
the Jews expected the Messiah to come,) but it came 
with spiritual efficacy, and with internal power upon 
the consciences of men, and spread itself over the 
world by the ministry of a very few despised instru- 
ments ; with respect unto which manner of working 
the Spirit is compared unto wind, which we heat 
and feel, but *' know not whence it comes, nor whi- 
ther it goes,'' John iii. 8. The operations of grace 
are secret and silent upon the conscience ; you shall 
find mighty changes wrought, and shall not tell how 
they w^ere wrought. The same man coming into the 
church, one hour a sow, a dog, a lion, and going out 
the next hour in all visible respects the same, but in- 
visibly changed into a lamb. 

(5.) It is of a soft and benign nature, which gently 
insinuateth and worketh itself in the ground, and by 
degrees moisteneth and mollifieth it, that it may be 
fitted unto the seed which is cast into it. In like 
manner, the Spirit, the grace, the word of God is of a 
searching, insinuating, softening, quality ; it sinks 
into the heart, and works itself into the conscience, 
and from thence makes way for itself into the whole 
man, mind, thoughts, affections, words, actions, fitting 
them all unto the holy seed that is put into them ; as 
the earth being softened and mingled with the dew 
is the more easily drawn up into those varieties ot 
herbs and fruits that are fed by it. 

(6.) It is of a vegetating and quickening nature, it 
causeth things to grow and revive again ; therefore 
the prophet calls it the dew of herbs, Isa. xxvi. 19. 
wliich are thereby refreshed, and recover life and 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — ^VERSES 5 — 7. 1S)1 

beauty ; even so the word and spirit of grace distil- 
ling upon the soul, as small rain upon tender herbs, 
and as showers on the grass, cause it to live the life 
of God, and to bring forth the fruits of holiness and 
obedience, Isa. Iv. 10, 11. Those parts of the world 
which are under either perpetual frosts or perpetual 
scorchings are barren and fruitless, the earth being thus 
closed up, and the sap thereof dried away. Such is 
the condition of a soul under wrath, which hath no 
apprehensions of God but in frost or fire ; for ** who 
can stand before his cold V* Psa. cxlvii. 17. " who can 
dwell with everlasting burnings?" Isa. xxxiii. 14. 
Fear contracteth and bindeth up the powers of the 
soul ; it is the greatest indisposer of all other unto re- . 
gular action. But when the soul can apprehend God 
as love, find healing in his wings, and reviving in his 
ordinances, this love is of an opening and expansive 
quality, calling forth the heart unto duty, love within 
as it were hastening to meet and close with love with- 
out ; the love of obedience in us, with the love of 
favour and grace in God. I shut and bar my door 
against an enemy whom I fear and look upon as armed 
to hurt me ; but I open wide my doors, my bosom, 
unto a friend whom I love, and look upon as furnished 
with coimsel, and comfort and benefits to revive me. 
There is a kind of mutual love between dew and the 
earth ; dew loves the earth with a love of beneficence, 
doing it good, and earth loves the dew with a love of 
concupiscence, earnestly desiring it, and opening unto 
it. Such is the love between Christ and the soul 
when he appears as dew unto it. He visits the soul 
with a love of mercy, reviving it, and the soul puts 
forth itself towards him in a love of duty, earnestly 
coveting as well to serve as to enjoy him. ' I 

(7.) It is of a refreshing and comforting nature, ; 

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tempering the heat of those hotter countries, and so 
causing the face of things to flourish with beauty and 
delight. So God promiseth to be unto his people in 
their troubles, " as a cloud of dew in the heat of har- 
vest/' Isa. xviii. 4. The spiritual joy and heavenly 
comfort which the peace and grace of God ministers to 
the consciences of believers, Rom. xv. 13. v. 1. Phil, 
iv. 4. 1 Pet. i. 8. is said to make the bones flourish 
like a herb, Isa. Ixvi. 14. as on the other side a 
broken spirit is said to dry up the bones, Prov.xvii. 22. 
*' Their soul," saith the prophet, ** shall be as a 
watered garden, they shall sorrow no more ; I will 
turn their mourning mto joy, and will comfort them," 
Jer. xxxi. 12, 13. 

By all which we should learn, to be sensible of our 
own personal and spiritual dryness, barrenness, emp- 
tiness of fruit and pe.ace, hard hearts, with red con- 
sciences, guilty spirits, under our own particular sins ; 
so in regard of the whole land to take notice of that 
tempest of wrath, which like an east wind out of the 
wilderness, " drieth up our springs, and spoileth our 
treasures," as the prophet complains, Hos.xiii. 15, 16. 
and to be humbled into penitent resolutions, as the 
church here is. If God who was wont to be as de\. 
to our nation, who made it heretofore like a paradise, 
and a watered garden, be now as a tempest, as a con- 
smning fire unto it, turning things upside down, burn- 
ing the inhabitants of the earth, causing " our land to 
mourn, and our joy to wither,'' as the prophet speaks, 
Joel i. 12. this is an evident sign that the '* earth is 
defiled under the inhabitants thereof," Isa. xxiv. 4, 5. 
Therefore as our sins have turned our dew into blood, 
so our repentance must turn our blood into dew again. 
If ever we look to have a happy peace, we must make 
it with God. Men can give peace only to our bodies, 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 5 7. 193 

our fields, our houses, our purses, (nor that eithei 
without his over-ruling power and providence, who 
alone manageth all the counsels and resolutions of 
men^) but he alone can give peace to our consciences 
by the assurance of his love wliich is better than life. 
And if there should be peace in a nation, made up only 
by human prudence and correspondences, without 
public repentance, and thorough reformation in church, 
in state, in families, in persons, in judgment, in man- 
ners ; it would be but like those short interims between 
the Egyptian plagues, Exod. viii. 1 5. ix. 34. a re- 
spiting only, not a removing of our affliction ; like 
the shining of the sun on Sodom before the fire and 
brimstone fell upon it. Gen. xix. 23, 24. We all cry 
and call for peace, and while anything is left would 
gladly pay dear, very dear to recover it again. But 
there is no sure and lasting purchase of it, but by 
unfeigned repentance and turning unto God ; this is 
able to give peace in the midst of war. In the midst 
of storm and tempest, Christ is sufficient security to 
the tossed ship. Matt. viii. 24. 27. " This man is the 
peace even when the Assyrian is in the land," Mic. 
V. 5. Whereas impenitency, even when we have re- 
covered an outward peace, leaves us still in the midst 
of most potent enemies ; God, Christ, angels, scripture, 
creatures, conscience, sins, curses, all our enemies. 
The apostle tells us that '* lusts war against the soul," 
1 Pet ii. 11. There is a strong emphasis in the 
word soul, which is more worth than all the world, 
nothing to be taken in exchange for it. Matt. xvi. 26. 
So long as we have our lusts unconquered, we are under 
the most woful war in the world, which doth not spoil 
us of our blood, our money, our coin, our cattle, our 
^ houses, our children, but of the salvation of our immor- 
tal souls. Time vnW repair the ruins of other wars, but 

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eternity itself will not deliver that poor soul which is 
lost, and fallen in the wars of lust. 

Therefore if you would have peace as a mercy, get 
it from God, let it be a dew from heaven upon your 
ronversion unto him. A king's favour is said to be 
as dew on the grass, Pro v. xix. 12. and as a cloud of 
the latter rain, Prov. xvi. 15. and it would with all 
joyfulness be so apprehended, if by that means the 
blessings of peace were bestowed upon these distressed 
kingdoms. How much more comfortable would it be 
to have it as a gift from God unto a repenting nation. 
For God can give peace in anger, as well as he doth 
war. A ship at sea may be distressed by a calm, as 
well as broken by a tempest. The cattle which we 
/nean to kill, we do first prefer unto some fat pasture : 
and sometimes God gives over punishing, not in 
mercy but in fury ; leaving men to go on quietly in 
their own hearts' lusts, that they who are filthy may be 
filthy still, Psa. Ixxxi. 12. Hos. iv. 14. 17. Isa. i. 5. 
Ezek. xxiv. 13. God was exceeding angry with Israel 
when he gave them their hearts' desire, and sent them 
quails, Num. xi. 32, 33. Many men get their wills 
from God's anger by murmuring, as others do theirs 
from his mercy by prayer ; but then there comes a 
curse along with it. Now, therefore, when our own 
sword doth devour us, when our land is through the 
nrrath of the Lord of hosts so darkened, that the 
people thereof are as fuel of the fire, no man sparing 
his brother, every man eating the flesh of his own 
arm. It is the sad character which the prophet gives 
of a civil war, Isa. ix. 19, 20. Let us take heed of 
God's complaint, " In vain have I smitten your chil- 
dren, they receive no correction, Jer. ii. 30. Let us 
make it our business to recover God. It is he that 
causeth wars to cease in the earth, Psa. xlvi* 9. And 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 5—7. 195 

it ia he who poureth out upon men the strength of 
battle, and giveth them over to the spoilers, Isa. xlll. 
24, 25. A binful nation gains nothing by any humap 
treaties, policies, counsels, contributions, till by re« 
pentance they secure their interest in God, and make 
him on their side. God being prevailed with by Moses 
in behalf of Israel after the horrible provocation of 
the golden calf, sends a message to them, ** I will 
send an angel before thee, and will drive out the 
Canaanite." And presently it follows, ** When the 
people heard these evil tidings, they mourned," Exod. 
xxxiii. 2 — 4. What ! were these evil tidings, to have 
an angel to protect and lead them ! to have their 
enemies vanquished! to have possession of a land 
flowing with milk and honey ! was there any thing 
lamentable in all this ? Yes, to have all this and much 
more, and not to have God and his presence, was 
heavy tidings unto God's people. And therefore Moses 
never gave God over till he promised them his own 
presence again, with which he chose rather to stay in 
a wilderness, than without it to go into the land of 
Canaan ; '* If thy presence go not along, carry us not 
up hence," Exod. xxxiii. 13 — 15. 

We should also from hence learn, whatever our 
spiritual wiints are, to look up to heaven for a supply 
of them. Neither gardens, nor woods, nor vineyards, 
nor fields, nor flowers, nor trees, nor com, nor spices 
will flourish or revive without the dew and concup 
rence of heavenly grace, Christ alone is all in all unto 
his church ; though the instruments be earthly, yet 
the virtue which gives success unto them comes from 

[1.] The beauty of the lilies, or, as the prophet 
David calls it, the beauty of holiness, ariseth from the 
dew of the morning, Psa. ex. 3. He is the ornament, 

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the attire, the comeliness of his spouse. For his peo- 
ple to forget him, is for a maid to forget her orna- 
ments, or a spouse her attire, Jer. ii. 32. The per- 
fect beauty of the church, is that comeliness of his 
which he communicates unto her, Ezek. xvi. 14. Of our- 
selves we are wretched, miserable, poor, naked ; our 
gold, our riches, our white raiment, we must buy of 
him, Rev. iii. 18. He is the Lord our righteousness, 
whom therefore we are said to put on, Rom. xiii. 14. 
He hath made us kings and priests unto our God, 
Rev. V. 10. and being such, he hath provided beauti- 
tul robes for us, as once he appointed for the priests, 
Exod. xxviii. 2. Rev. iv. 4. vi. 11. vii. 9. This spiritual 
beauty of holiness in Christ's church, is sometimes 
compared to the marriage ornaments for a queen, 
Psa. xlv. 14. Rev. xviii. 7, 8. xxi. 2. sometimes to 
the choice flowers of a garden, roses and lihes. Cant, 
ii. 1,2. sometimes to a most glorious and .?oodly 
structure, Rev. xxi. 11. 23. sometimes to the shining 
forth of the moon, and the brightness of the sun, Cant. 
vi. 10. Rev. xii. 1. All the united excellences^ of 
the creatures are too low to adumbrate and figure 
the glories of the church. 

[2.] The root and stability of the church is in and 
from him ; he is the root of David, Rev. v. 5. Ex- 
cept he dwell in us, we cannot be rooted nor grounded 
Eph. iii. 17. All our strength and sufficiency is from 
him, Phil. iv. 13. Eph. vi. 10. 1 Pet. v. 10. The 
graft is supported by another root, and not by its own. 
This is the reason of the stability of the church, be- 
cause it is founded upon a rock, Matt. xvi. 18. not 
upon Peter, but upon him whom Peter confessed ; 
upon the apostles only doctrinally, but upon Christ 
personally, as the cliief comer-stone, elect and pre- 
cious, in whom whosoever believeth shall not bo 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 5—7. 197 

confounded, or by failing in his confidence be any way9 
disappointed and put to shame, £ph. ii. 20, 21. 1 Pet 
ii. 6. This is the difference between the righteousness 
of creation, and the righteousness of redemption ; tlig 
state of the world in Adam, and the state of the church 
in Christ. Adam had his righteousness in his own 
keeping, and therefore when the power of hell set 
upon him, he fell from his stedfastness ; there was no 
promise given unto him that the gates of hell should 
not prevail against him ; being of an earthly consti- 
tution, he had corruptibility, mutability, infirmity be* 
longing unto him out of the principles of his being. 
But Christ the second Adam is the Lord from heaven ; 
over whom death hath no claim nor power ; and the 
righteousness and stability of the church is founded, 
and hath its original in him. . The powers of darkness 
must be able to evacuate the virtue of his sacrifice, to 
stop God's ears unto his intercession, to repel and 
keep back the supply and influences of his Spirit, to 
keep or recover possession against his ejectment, in 
one word, to kill him again, and to tluiist him away 
from the right hand of the Majesty on High, before 
ever they can blow down or overturn his church. As 
Plato compared a man, so may we the church unto a 
tree inverted, with the root above and the branches 
below. And the root of the tree doth not only serve 
to give life to the branches while they abide in it, but 
to hold them fast that none can be able to cut them 
oJff, John X. 28, 29. 

[3.] The growth and spreading abroad the branches 
of the church, is from him whose name is the Branch, 
Isa. xi. 11. Zech. iii. 8. Unto him are all the ends 
of the earth given for a possession, and all the king- 
doms of the world are to be the Lord's and his Christ's. 
In regard of his dispensation towards Israel, God's 

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first-born, so the land of Canaan is peculiarly called 
Immanuers land, Isa. viii. 8. But in regard of his 
latter dispensation, when he sent the rod of his 
strength out of Sion, and went forth conquering and 
to conquer, and gave commission to preach the gos- 
pel unto every creature ; so the whole world is now 
under the gospel become Immanuel's land, and he is 
king of all the earth, Psa. xlvii. 7. " King of kings 
and Lord of lords," Rev. xix. 16. Gentiles come 
into the light of his church, and kings to the bright- 
ness of her rising, and ^' the nation and kingdom 
that will not serve her shall perish," &c. Isa. Ix. 3. 12. 
Now every country is Canaan, and every christian 
church the Israel of God, and every regenerate person 
bom in Sion, and every spiritual worshipper the cir- 
cumcision ; now Christ is crucified in Galatia, and a 
passover eaten in Corinth, and manna fed on in Per- 
gamus, and an altar set up in Egypt, and Gentiles sa- 
crificed, and stones made children unto Abraliam, and 
temples unto God ; see John iv. 21. Mai. 111. Zeph. 
ii. 11. Gal. vi. 16. Isa. xliv. 5. Zech. viii. 23. Rom. 
ii. 29. Psa. Ixxxvii. 4, 5. Phil. iii. 3. Col. ii. 11. Gal. 
iii. 1. 1 Cor. v. 7, 8. Rev. ii. 17. Isa. xix. 19. 21. 
Rom. XV. 16. Luke iii. 8. £ph. ii. 11. In Christ's 
former dispensation, the church was only national 
amongst the Jews, but in his latter dispensation it is 
oecumenical (general) and universal over all the 
world ; a spreading tree, under the shadow of the 
branches wliereof shall dwell the fowl of every wing, 
Ezek. xvii. 23. 

[4.] The graces of the Holy Spirit wherewith the 
church is anointed are from him. He is the olive- 
tree which emptieth the golden oil out of himself, 
Zech. iv. 12. " Of his fiSness we all receive grace 
far grace," John L 16. with the same Spirit are we 

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ON HOSEA XIV. VERSES 5 — 7. 199 

anointed, animated by the same life, regenerated to the 
same nature, renewed unto the same image, reserved 
unto the same inheritance, dignified in some respect 
with the same offices, made priests to offer spiritual 
sacrifices, and kings to subdue spiritual enemies, and 
prophets to receive teaching from God, and to have a 
duplicate of his law written in our hearts, 2 Cor. 
i. 21. John xiv. 19. 1 Cor. xv. 48, 49. Rom. viii. 17. 
1 Pet. i. 5. Rev. i. 6. Jolm vi. 45. Jer. xxxi. 33. 

[5.] The sweet perfume and scent or smell of Le- 
banon, which ariseth out of holy duties, the grace 
which droppeth from the lips of the people, the spi- 
ritual incense which ariseth out of their prayers, the 
sweet savour of the gospel which spreadeth itself 
abroad in the ministry of his wovd, and in the lives of 
his servants, they have all their original in him, and 
from his heavenly dew. Of ourselves, without him, 
as we are, altogether vile and unclean, Psa. xiv. 1. 
Prov. xiii. 5. so we defile every holy thing which 
we meddle with, Hag. il 13, 14. Prov. xxviii. 9. 
Isa. i. 11. 15. insomuch that God says, I will not 
smell in your solemn assemblies, Amos v. 21. 
they are all of them as they came from us, ^* Gall 
and wormwood, and bitter clusters,'' Deut. xxix. 18. 
xxxii. 33. But when the Spirit of Christ bloweth upon 
us, and his grace is poured into our hearts and hps, 
then the spices flow out. Cant. iv. 1 6. Then prayer 
goes up like incense and sweet odours. Rev. v. 8. 
wen instead of corrupt, rotten, courageous communi- 
cation, our discourses tend to edifying, and minis- 
ter grace to the hearers, £ph. iv. 29. then the savour 
of the knowledge of Christ manifests itself in the 
mouths and lives of his servants in every place where 
they come, 2 Cor. xi. 14. 

[6.] The shadow and refireshment» the refuge and 

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shelter of tlie church against storm and tempest, 
against rain and heat, against all trouhle and perse- 
cution, is from him alone. He is tlie only defence and 
covering that is over the assemblies and glory of Sion, 
Isa. iv. 5. The name of the Lord is a strong tower, 
unto which the righteous fly and are safe, Prov. 
xviii. 10. So the Lord promiseth when his people 
should be exiles from his temple, and scattered out of 
their own land, that he would himself be a little sanc- 
tuary unto them in the countries where they should 
come, Ezek. xi. 16. He is a dwelling-place unto his 
church in all conditions, Psa. xc. 1 . xci. 1 , 2. a strength to 
the needy, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the 
heat, a hiding place from the wind, a covert from the 
tempest, a chamber wherein to retire when indigna- 
tion is kindled, Isa. xxv. 4. xxvi. 20. xxxii. 2. Every 
history of God's power, every promise of his love, 
every observation and experience of his providence, 
every comfort in his word, the knowledge which we 
have of his name by faith, and the knowledge which 
we have of it by experience, are so many arguments 
to trust in him, and so many hiding places to fiy unto 
him, against any trouble. " What time I am afraid, 
I will trust in thee," Psa. Ivii. 3. " Why art thou 
cast down, O my soul ? still trust in God," Psa. xlii. 
5. 1 1. He hath delivered, he doth deliver, he will de- 
liver, 2 Cor. i. 10. Many times the children of God 
are reduced to such extremities, that they have nothing 
to encourage themselves withal but their interest in 
him; nothing to fly unto for hope but his g^eat 
name made known unto them by faiUi in his promises, 
and by experience of his goodness, power, and pro- 
vidence. This was David's case at Ziklag, 1 Sam. 
XXX. 6. and Israel's at the Red Sea, Exod. xiv. 10. 13. 
and Jonah's in the belly of the fish, Jonah ii. 4. 7. and 

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ON HObEA XIV. — VERSES 5 — 7. 20 1 

Paul's in the shipwreck, Acts xxvii. 20. 25. God is 
never so much glorified by the faith of his servants, 
as when they can hold up their trust in him against 
sight and sense ; and when reason saith^ Thou art un- 
done, for all help fails thee, can answer in faith, I am 
not undone, for ne said, I will never fail thee, nor for- 
sake thee. 

[7.] The power which the church hath to rise up 
above her pressures, to outgrow her troubles, to revive 
aRer lopping and harrowing, to make use of affliction 
as a means to flourish again, all this is from him. 
That in trouble we are not overwhelmed, but can say 
with the apostle, *' As dying, and behold we live ; as 
chastened, and not killed ; as sorrowful, yet always 
rejoicing ; as poor, yet making many rich ; as having 
nothing, and yet possessing all things ;" like the com 
which dies and is quickened again, like the vine that 
is lopped and spreads asaiu, all this is from him who 
is the resurrection and tlie life, John xi. 25. who was 
that grain of wheat which dying, and being cast into 
the ground, did bring forth much fruit, John xii. 24, 
the branch which grew out of the roots of Jesse, when 
that goodly family was sunk so low, as from David the 
king unto Joseph the carpenter. 

[8.] As God is the author of all these blessings unto 
his people, so when he bestows them he doth it in 
perfection ; the fruits wliich Uiis dew produceth, are the 
fruits of Lebanon, the choicest and most excellent of 
any other. If he plant a vineyard, it shall be in a very 
fruitful hill, and with the choicest plants, Isa. v. 1, 2. 
a noble vine, a right seed, Jer. ii. 21. When in any 
kind of straits we have recourse to the creature for 
supply, either we find it like our Saviour's fig-tree, 
without fruit, or like our prophet's vine, as good as 
empty, the firuits thereof not worth the gathering. 

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Hob. X. 1. Grapes of gall and bitter clusters ; full of 
vanity, windiness, vexation, disappointment ; friends 
fail either in their love, or in their power, people cry 
Hosanna to day, and Crucify him to morrow. Men 
of low degree are vanity^ and men of high degree a. 
lie. Counsels clash, or are puzzled with intricacies, 
and unhappy obstacles, like the wheels in Ezekiers 
vision, that seem hampered in one another. Armies 
like Reuben, unstable as waters, that flow now, and 
anon ebb, and sink away again. Treasures, like the 
mountains out of which they were first digged, bar- 
ren, and fruitless, better fuel to feed our sins, than 
water to quench our flames ; matter of prey to the 
wicked, more than of help to the miserable. In one 
word, take any creature-helps in the world, and there 
will be something, nay very much of defect in them 
All being, but God's, is mixed with not being; and 
as every man, so every creature else which is nothing 
but creature, is a liar, like Job's brook, or friends 
which he compaieth thereunto, that vanisheth into 
nothing when there is most need of it. Job vi. 17. 21. 
A liar, either by way of perfidiousness, which pro- 
miseth and then deceives, or by way of impotency, 
which undertaketh and then miscarries. But when- 
ever God promiseth and undertaketh to bless any man 
or any people, he carrieth on Ids work to perfection ; 
his blessings are all milk and honey, dew and fatness, 
wine and oil, the fruits of Lebanon, full of sweetness 
and maturity : he perfects that which he begins con- 
cerning his servants, Psa. cxxxviii. B. Phil. i. 6. 
There doth not one thing fail of all the good he speaks 
concerning his people, they all come to pass, and 
not one faileth, Josh, xxiii. 14. The riches which are 
gotten by human lusts and sinful resolutions, do come 
along with many and piercing sorrows, 1 Tim. vi. 10 

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ON HOSBA XIV. — VERSES 5— -7. 203 

but when God blesseth a man with riches, he takes 
away all the sorrow from it, Prov. x. 22. The gifts 
of God are all of them like his works, very good, Gen. 
i. 31. and bring after a sabbath, a rest, and peace into 
the soul with them. 

Further, we should from hence learn to show forth 
the fruits of this heavenly dew in those several ex« 
pressions which the prophet here useth, drawn from 
the consideration of a garden, forest, fruitful field, 
heavenly paradise, which is a similitude frequently 
used by tlie Holy Spirit, to note the beauty, sweetness, 
fruit, comfort, shelter, protection, which the church of 
Christ affordeth to the members of it, Isa. xxxv. 1, 2. 
Iviii. 11. Cant. iv. 12. 16. vi. 2. as on the other side 
the wicked are compared unto a dry desert, and barren 
wilderness, Isa. xxxv. 6, 7. xli. 18. Jer. xvii. 8. For 
these things as they are promises in regard of God, 
and so matter of comfort, so are they duties in regard 
of us, and so matter of obedience. 

[1 .] He promiseih, that his people shall grow as 
the lily, which is the most beautiful of all flowers. 
Matt. vi. 28, 29. That they shall be gloriously 
clothed like a king's daughter, with the garments of 
praise, and the Spirit of holiness, Isa. Ixii. 3. set forth 
by various metaphors of broidered work, and fine linen, 
and silk, and ornaments, and bracelets, and chains, 
and jewels, and crowns, Ezek. xvi. 10 — 13. 

And as it is his promise, so it ought to be our 
duty and endeavour to adorn the gospel of Christ,to be 
in his garden as a lily, and not as a nettle or bramble ; 
to walk as becometh godliness ; to let our light shine 
before men, that they may be won to admire the ami- 
ableness of the Lord's tabernacle, and glorify God in 
the hour of their visitation, to be as lights in the 
midst of a crooked generation, Phil. ii. 15. or as lilies 

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amongst briers, 'Cant. ii. 2. to make it appear that 
spiritual wisdom causeth the face to shine, Ecc, viii. 1. 
That holiness is indeed a most beautiful thing, which 
commendeth us to the eyes of God and angels ; a robe 
worn by Christ the King of saints, and by which we 
are made like unto him who is the fairest of ten thou- 
sand, and altogether lovely ; we should take heed of 
I anything whereby our holy profession may be ble- 
mished, and the name of God defiled by our means : 
of such levity as is inconsistent with the majesty of 
holiness ; of such moroseness as is inconsistent with 
the meekness of holiness ; of such drooping as is in- 
consistent with the joy of holiness ; of such stifiness 
and sourness as is inconsistent with the lenity of 
holiness. In one word, we should labour by the in- 
nocency, purity, elegancy, fragrancy, fruitfulness ; by 
the winning ingenuousness, fehe mild and humble con- 
descension, the prudent insinuation, the meek, quiet, 
and graceful managing of a holy life, to show forth 
the praises of him that hath called us, and to put to 
silence the ignorance of foolish men, who, like blacka- 
moors, despise beauty, as dogs bark at the shining 
of the moon, and speak evil of the things they know 

[2.] He promiseth that his church should cast out 
his roots as Lebanon : though she should have the 
beauty of the lily, yet she should be freed from the 
infirmity of it, an aptness to fede and wither, beauti- 
ful to-day, and to-morrow cast into the oven. But she 
should have stability like the cedar, which is one of 
the strongest of trees, and least subject to putrefac- 
tion, and therefore the church is compared to it, Ezek. 
xvii. 22, 23. and the temple is said to be built of it, 
1 Kings vi. 15, 16. To signify the strength and 
duration of the church, against which the gates of hell 

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ON H08EA XIV. — VERSES 5 — 7. 205 

should not prevail. And we may by the way observe, 
that most of the things here mentioned by our pro- 
phet, are also noted to have been in the temple, or in 
the services thereof; lilies, 1 Kings vii. 19. 22. 26. 
olive trees, I Kings vi. 23. 32> 33. spices for incense, 
wheat and oil for meat offerings, wine for drink offer- 
ings. God ^misheth his people with those blessings 
which may be most properly dedicated unto hhn. 
Teaching us as often as we receive any gifts from 
God, presently to inquire what relation they have to 
his temple, how his name may be honoured, how his 
church may be served, how his gospel may be fur- 
thered, how his people may be edified and comforted 
by them, how all our enjoyments may be divided as 
spoils unto Christ The power of great men, Isa. 
Ix. 3. the swords of mighty men, 1 Sam. xviii. 17. 
XXV. 28. Judg. vii. 8. the wisdom of learned men, 
1 Kings iii. 9. 28. the cunning of craftsmen, Exod. 
xxviii. 3. xxxi. 6. the wealth of rich men, Isa. xxiii. 18. 
Prov. iii. 9. Psa. xlv. 12. Isa. Ix. 6. 9. 1 Tim. vi. 
17 — 19. Abraham gave of the spoils to Melchisedec, 
Heb. vii. 4. and Israel of all their wealth to the taber- 
nacle, Exod. XXXV. 21. and David and his people of 
their treasure to the temple, 1 Chron. xxix. 2. 

And as it is his promise, that the church should 
thus take root, 2 £jngs xix. 30. Jer. xvii. 8. so we 
should account it our duty to be firm, stable, constant, 
unmovable in the truth, and in the work of the Lord, 
as a house built upon a rock. To stand &st and be 
rooted in the truth, that we may hold the profession 
thereof without wavering, not being carried about with 
every wind of doctrine ; but knowing whom and what 
we have believed, 1 Cor. xvi. 13. Eph. iv. 14. Col. ii. 7. 
Heb. X. 23. to stand fast and be rooted in the love of 
God, that we may be strengthened with might in his 

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service, and may with purpose of heart cleave untc 
him, being established by his grace, Eph. lii. 17. Col. 
]. 11. Heb. xii. 28. xiii. 9. In the civL law, till a 
tree hath taken root, it doth not belong to the soil on 
which it is planted. It is not enough to be in the 
church, except, like the cedar of Lebanon, we cast 
forth our roots, and are so planted that we flourish in 
^he courts of our God, and bring forth fruit in our old 
age, Psa. xcii. 12 — 14. 

[3.] He promised that the church should spread 
forth her branches, and fill the earth, and grow into a 
great compass and extent, and should send forth her 
boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river, 
Psa. Ixxx. 9—11. Dan. ii. 35. That his church 
should be a universal church over the whole world ; 
that as the whole world in regard of sin lieth in mis- 
chief, 1 John V. 19. so the whole world should have 
Christ for its propitiation, through faith, 1 John ii. 2. 
By one Spirit we all are baptized into one body, 1 Cor. 
xii. 13. and that one body made up of all the churches 
of the saints, 1 Cor. xiv. 33. even of all nations, 
kindreds, people, tongues. Rev. vii. 9. no difference 
of persons, ** Neither Greek nor Jew, neither circum- 
cision nor uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond 
nor free, but Christ all, and in all," Col. iii. 11. no 
difference of places : all that in every place call upon 
the name of the Lord Jesus, both theirs and ours, 
1 Cor. i. 2. no difference of times, " Christ yesterday, 
and to-day, and the same for ever," Heb. xiii. 8. 

And as this is the promise, so we should endeavour, 
1. To grow ourselves in knowledge and grace ; to let 
our profiting appear unto all men ; to abound in the 
work of the Lord ; to let our graces from the heart, 
like leaven from the middle of the lump, spread abroad, 
and find their way to all the parts and powers of soul 

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ON HOSEA XIV. VERSES 5 — 7. 207 

and body, that the whole man may be *^ filled with 
the fulness of God," and grow up " unto the mea- 
sure of the stature of the fulness ot Christ," £ph. iv, 
13. 15, 16. Phil. iii. 12, 13. 2 Pet. iii. 18. Heb. vi. 1. 
2. To labour and endeavour the growth and progress 
of the gospel in others. This is the nature of grace, 
to manifest itself, and by that means to allure and 
gather others to its own quality. It is set forth in 
scripture by the names of Ught which shines abroad, of 
ointment and perfume which cannot be hid, of leaven 
and salt, which deriveth its own nature and relish 
upon a whole lump. Therefore the Holy Ghost was 
given in tongues, fiery tongues, and a rushing wind, 
all which have a quality of self-manifestation, and no- 
tifying themselves unto others. There is an excellent 
place to this purpose in the apostle ; ^' But speaking 
the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things 
which is the head, even Christ. From whom the 
whole body fitly joined together and compacted by 
that which every joint supplieth, according to the effec- 
tual working in the measure of every part, maketh 
increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in 
love," Eph. iv. 15, 16. Where the apostle showethtlie 
manner of spiritual increase in the mystical body of 
Christ by the proportion of the growth of members in 
the natural body. 

Tliere must be a fellowship between the head and 
members, which in the mystical body here is twofold ; 
growing unto him, and receiving from him. Look- 
ing in this work of growth upon Christ ; 1. As the 
end of that growth unto which it drives; 2. As 
the fountain from whence it proceeds. That by 
growth we may have a more intimate and strong com- 
munion with him ; by that virtue which we receive 
from him. So here are two necessary requisites unto 

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this duty of endeavouring the increase of the body ; to 
have Christ for our end unto which we work, and for 
our fountain out of which we derive our ability of 
working. Every true member of Christ is intent and 
vigilant upon the interest and honour of Christ ; and 
it belongs unto the honour of Christ to have a perfect 
body. The church is his fulness ; he esteems himself 
maimed and incomplete, if that should be finally de- 
ficient in any thing requisite to the integral perfection 
of it, and hence it is that every true christian puts 
forth the uttermost of his endeavours in his place to 
carry on the increase of his master's body ; as every 
true-hearted soldier that loves his general, is exceed- 
ing desirous, and to his power endeavours, that every 
company and regiment under his general's command 
may be, in all the officers and members of it, complete. 
Again, every member of Christ being unto him united, 
doth from him receive of his fulness grace for grace, 
and so worketh unto the same ends as the head 
doth. And as the water which first riseth out of the 
fountain doth not stand still there wherein it began, 
but goeth forward till it grow into a great river ; so 
those who are joined unto Christ as a fountain, do by 
reason of that vital communion which they have with 
the fountain, carry on the growth of the whole body ; 
and the more vigorous the life of Christ is in any part, 
the more actively doth that part work towards the 
edification of the whole. ^ 

Here is further required a fellowship and mutual 
communion of the members of the body within and 
amongst themselves ; unto which is first presupposed 
the organical and harmonious constitution and com- 
pacture of the body into one, out of which ariseth the 
form and beauty, the strength and firmness, the order 
and fitness that is in it unto those works which aro 

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proper to it, intimated in those words, " Fitly joined to- 
gether, and compacted/' It is a metaphor drawn from 
carpenters and other artificers, who by several joints 
do so co-aptate and fit the parts of their work unto 
one another, that being put together and fastened, 
there may one whole structure or body grow out of 
them ; and in that body this accurate fitness and inti- 
mateness of the parts with one another, produceth an 
excellent strength, a beautiful order, and a ready ser- 
viceableness of each part to the other, and of all to 
the whole. So Jerusalem is said to be a city com- 
pacted within itself, Psa. cxxii. 3. As the ark (a 
type of the church) liad the ribs and planks and parts 
thereof so closely fastened into one another, that no 
water might get in to drown it. And in the taberna- 
cle all the curtains thereof were to be coupled together 
into one another, £xod. xxvi. 3. Christ is all for 
unity, and joining things into one, two natures united 
in one person, two parties reconciled by one Mediator, 
two people concorporated into one church ; one family, 
one father, one seed, one head, one faith, one hope, 
one love, one worship, one body, one spirit, one end, 
and common salvation. Christ is not, loves not to be 
divided. This is a fundamental requisite unto the 
growth of the body, the preservation of its unity. The 
building must be fitly framed together, if you would 
have it grow into a holy temple to the Lord, £ph. 
ii. 21. Col. ii. 19. When there was most unity, there 
was greatest increase in the church ; when they were 
all of one accord, of one heart, and one soul, then the 
Lord " added to the church daily such as should be 
saved,'* Acts ii. 46, 47. They that cause divisions 
and dissensions do not serve the Lord Jesus, and 
therefore they cannot but hinder the progress of his 
gospel, Rom. xvi. 17, 18. As in the natural so ia 

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the mystical body, separations tend to the paining and 
grieving of that Spirit by which the body lives, Eph. 
iv. 30, 31. and by consequence hinders the growth of it. 
Our growth is by the apostle distributed into growth in 
knowledge, and growth in grace, 2 Pet. iii. 18. and di- 
visions in the church are of themselves great hinder- 
ances unto both these ; unto knowledge, because the 
most usual breaches in the church arise out of diversi- 
ties of opinions publicly asserted and insisted on by the 
authors and followers of them. And though acci- 
dentally, where truth is embraced, it is held with 
more care, and searched into with more accuracy, be- 
cause of the errors that oppose it ; (as the fire is hot- 
test in the coldest weather;) yet corrupt doctrine, 
being of the nature of a weed, or canker, to spread 
and eat further and further, it must needs consequently 
hinder the spreading, and in that kind, the growth of 
knowledge. Nor doth it less hinder the growth of 
grace ; for while the people of God are all of one heart, 
and of one way, then all their communion runs into 
this one design of mutually edifying, comforting, sup- 
porting, encouraging one another. in their holy faith ; 
but when they are divided and broken into faction by 
different judgments, if there be not a greater abun- 
dance of humility, and spiritual wisdom, the spirits of 
men run out into heats and passions, and into perverse 
disputes, and mere notional contentions, which have 
ever been diminutions unto the power of godliness, 
1 Cor. iii. 3, 4. When there are schisms in the 
body, the members will not have care one of another, 
1 Cor. xii. 25. It were a blessed thing if we were in 
a condition capable of the apostle's exhortation, to 
speak all the same thing, to be perfectly joined in the 
same mind, and in the same judgment, to be of one 
mind, and to live in peace, 1 Cor. i. 10. 2 Cor. xiii. 

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11. But if that cannot be attained unto, let us yet 
ail learn the apostle's other lesson, wherein we are 
otherwise minded, to depend upon God for revealing 
his will unto us. And whereunto we have attained to 
walk by the same rule, to mind the same thing, to 
remember that every difference in opinion doth not, 
ought not to dissipate or dissolve the unity of God's 
church. Even in Corinth, where the people were 
divided into several parties, yet they continued one 
church, 1 Cor. xi. 18. 

The body thus constituted and compacted for the in- 
crease thereof. 

Here are members severally distinct from one ano 
ther ; some principal, others ministerial, all concurring 
differently unto the service of the whole. If the heart 
should be in the head, or the liver in the shoulder, if 
there should be any unnatural dislocation of the vital 
or nutritive parts, the body could not grow, but perish. 
Tlie way for the church to prosper and flourish, is for 
every member to keep in his own rank and order, to 
remember his own measure, to act in his own sphere, 
to manage his particular condition and relations with 
spiritual wisdom and humility; the eye to do the 
work of an eye, the hand of a hand. Say not as Ab- 
salom, " If I were a judge, I would do justice," 2 Sam. 
XV. 4. but consider what state God hath set thee in^ 
and in that walk with God, and adorn the profession 
of the gospel, Rom. xii. 3. 1 Cor. xii. 8. 11. 29, 30. 
2 Cor. X. 13, 14. Eph. iv. 7. Remember Uzzah, it 
was a good work he did, but because he did it out of 
order, having no call, God smote him for his error, 
2 Sam. vi. 6, 7. There are excellent works, which 
being done without the call of God, do not edify but 
disturb the body, Rom. x. 15. Heb. v. 4. Every man 
must walk in the church as God hath distributed and 


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called, and every man must in the calling wherein 
he wa3 called abide with God, 1 Cor. vii. 17. 20. 24. 

Here are joints and ligaments so fastening these 
members together, tliat each one may be serviceable 
to the increase of the whole, Col. ii. 19. There are 
bands which join the body to the head, without which 
it can neither grow nor live, namely, the Spirit of 
Christ, and faith in him, 1 Cor. vi. 17. Rom. viii. 9. 
£ph. iii. 17. and there are bands which join the parts 
of the body unto one another ; as namely, the same 
Holy Spirit, 1 Cor. xii. 13. which Spirit of grace 
Btirreth up every member to seek the growth and bene- 
fit of the whole, 1 Cor. xii. 25, 26. The same sin- 
cere love and truth wliich each member beareth unto 
all the rest, is called a bond of perfectness. Col. 
iii. 14. and the bond of peace, £ph. iv. 3. Now love 
is a most communicative grace, it will plant, and 
water, and feed, and spend itself for the good of the 
whole, it will deny itself to serve the body, as Christ 
did. Gal. v. 13. 

Here is a measure belonging unto every part, some 
are in one office, others in another ; some have one 
gift, others another, and all this for the perfecting 
of the saints, Eph. iv. 11, 12. 1 Cor. xii. 4. 11. one 
is able to teach, another to comfort, a third to con- 
vince, a fourth to exhort, a fifth to counsel, and every 
one of these is to be directed unto the edification and 
growth of the whole, Rom. xii. 8. 8. Eph. iv. 7. The 
apostle saith, that we are " fellow-citizens with the 
saints," Eph. ii. 19. Now as amongst fellow-citi- 
zens there useth to be an intercourse of mutual nego- 
tiation, one man hath one commodity, and anothef 
another, and these they usually barter withal. So 
amongst the saints one man is eminent in one grace, 
another in another, and according to their mutual in- 

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digenceb or abilities, they do interchangeably minis- 
ter to one another towards the growth of the whole. 
And this is that which is here further requisite to the 
increase of the body called. 

Here is the supply of service, and the supply of 
nourishment which one part affords unto another, and 
so to the whole. This is principally from the head 
to the members, called by the apostle, *' The supply 
of the Spirit of Jesus Christ," Phil. i. 19. of whose 
fuhiess we receive grace for grace, John i. 16. into 
whose image we are transformed from glory to glory, 
2 Cor. iii. 18. but it is proportionably between the 
membeis amongst themselves ; for as several particu- 
lar ingredients make up one cordial, and several in- 
struments concur to the perfecting of one consummate 
work, and the beauty of every thing ariseth out of the 
variety and order, and mutual serviceableness that the 
parts thereof have unto one another : so is it in the 
church too, which Christ hath so tempered together, 
that they might all stand mutually in need of one ano- 
ther. Therefore we find the saints in scripture com- 
municating to one another their experiences, tempta- 
tions, deliverances, comforts, for their mutual edifica- 
tion, Psa. xxxiv. 3. 6. John i. 41. 45. iv. 29. 2 Cor. 
i. 4. 6. Phil. i. 12—14. Col. ii. 1, 2. And God's 
dealings with saints in particular are, therefore, re 
gistered in scripture, both that we might learn that 
way of building up one another, and tliat by their ex- 
amples we might support our faith, and through pa- 
tience and experience of the scripture have hope ; 
because what hath been done unto one, is in the like 
condition applicable unto every other, James v. 10, 
11. 17. Rom. XV. 4. 1 Cor. x. 6. 

After all this there is an effectual working, a faculty 
to form, and to concoct the matter which bath been 

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subministered unto life and nourishment : which is the 
work of £iith, and of the Spirit of Christ, whereby 
the soul of a believer, being sensible of want, desirous 
of supply, and pressing forward unto perfection, doth 
sweetly close with whatsoever the measure of any 
other part hath communicated unto it, converting it 
into growth and nourishment to itself, which the 
apostle calls, the mixing of the word with faith, 
Heb. iv. 2. Now, 

[4.] He promiseth that the beauty of his church shall 
be as the olive-tree ; that as she should have the glory 
of the lily, the strength and extension of the cedar, so 
this spreading should not be a vain ostentafion, but 
should have joined with it the fioiuishing and fruit- 
fulness of the olive. Now the honour of the olive-tree 
Btandeth in two things ; perpetual greenness and most 
profitable fruit, which serveth botli for light to cause 
the lamp to bum, Exod. xxvii. 20. and for nourish- 
ment to be eaten, Lev. vi. 15, 16. in the one respect it is 
an emblem of peace, it maketh the face shine, Psa. 
civ. 15. and in the other, it is an emblem of grace 
and spiritual gifb, 1 John ii. 20. These are the two 
most excellent benefits which God promiseth unto his 
people. He will speak peace unto them, Psa. Ixxxv. 
8. Isa. xxxii. 17. and he will give them grace and 
glory, Psa. Ixxxiv. 11. 

And as he promiseth, so should we practise these 
things, and learn to beautify the gospel of Christ, 1. 
With our good works, as the fruits of his grace, 
John XV. 8. 2. With our spiritual joy and comfort, 
as the fruits of his peace ; that others seeing the light 
and shining forth of a serene, calm, and peaceable 
conscience in our conversation, may thereby be brought 
in love with the ways of God. These two do mutually 
cherish and increase one another. The more con- 

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ON HOSEA XIV. VERSES 5 — 7. 215 

science we make of fruitfulness, the more way do we 
make for peace ; when the waters of lust are sunk, 
the dove will quickly bring an olive-branch in : and 
the more the peace of God rules in the heart, the 
more will it strengthen the conscience and care of 
obedience, out of these considerations ; 1. Out of 
thankfulness for so great a blessing , 2. Out of fear 
to forfeit it ; 3. Out of wisdom to improve and in* 
crease it 

[5.] He promiseth that his church shall be as the 
smell of Lebanon, and that the scent of it shall be as the 
wine of Lebanon, as elsewhere we find her compared 
to a garden of spices, Cant. iv. 12 — 14. she shall be 
filled with the sweet savour of the gospel of Christ. 
" Thanks be unto God," szdth the apostle, " which 
always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh 
manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every 
place, for we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ," 
2 Cor. ii. 14, 15. where there are two metaphors, one 
of a sweet ointment, the other of a triumph. The 
name of Christ is compared to an ointment, Cant. i. 3. 
and preaching of the gospel, which is making manifest 
the savour of this ointment, and is called the bearing 
of Christ's name, Acts ix. 15. Now, this sweet sa- 
vour is annexed unto a triumphal solemnity, because 
in all times of public joy, they were wont to anoint 
themselves with sweet oil, which is therefore called, 
'• The oil of gladness," Psa. xlv. 7, 8. Isa. Ixi. 3. 
For in times of mourning they did abstain from sweet 
ointments, 2 Sam. xiv. 2. Dan. x. 2, 3. The gospel 
therefore being a message of great joy, Luke ii. 13. 
a leading captivity captive, and the means whereby 
Christ rideth forth gloriously, conquering and to con- 
quer, Psa. xlv. 3, 4. ex. 2. Rev. vi. 2. therefore they 
who brought these good tidings, are said to be as a 

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sweet savour, whose lips drop sweet smelling myrrh, 
Cant. V. 13. and whose doctrine is compared to the 
powders of the merchant, Cant. iii. 6. and the time of 
the gospel is called an accepted time, a day of salva- 
tion, 2 Cor. vi. 2. that is, a time of singular joy and 
solemnity, a continued Easter, or festival, 1 Cor. v. 
I 7, 8. and here withal he promiseth likewise, that his 
! people should offer up spiritual incense and services 
' unto him in prayers, thanksgivings, ahns, and good 
works, Ezek. xx. 41. 

And as he promiseth, so we should practise these 
things ; our care should he to let our hps and lives 
hreathe forth nothing hut grace and edification. Col. 
iv. 6. To be frequent in the spiritual sacrifices of 
prayer, thanksgiving, and good works, which may be 
as an odour of a sweet savour to God, Phil. iv. 18. 
Rev. viii. 4. To labour to leave behind us a good 
name ; not out of vain- glory, or an empty, ambitious 
affectation of honour, but out of the conscience of a 
holy life, which makes the name smell better tlian 
sweet ointment, Ecc, vii. 1. 

[6.] He promiseth, that they who dwell under his 
shadow shall return : which words admit of a double 
sense, and so infer a double promise and a double 
duty. We may understand the words thus. When 
Israel have repented and are brought home to God 
again, they shall then have security, defence, protec- 
tion, refreshment under the comforts of his grace 
against all the violence of temptation, as a spreading 
tree doth afford a sweet shade unto the weary travel- 
ler, and shelters him from the injuries of the iieat. Job 
vii. 2. Isa. iv. 6. Mic. iv. 4. Zeeh. iii. 10. Whereby 
is signified the secure, quiet, and comfortable condi- 
tion of God's people under the protection of his provi- 
dence and promises. 

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ON HOSEA XIV. VERSES 5 — 7. 217 

And as he promiseth such a condition, so should we 
in all our troubles not trust in an arm of flesh, or 
betake ourselves to mere human wisdom, and carnal 
counsels, which are too thin shelters against God's 
displeasure, or the enemies of the church : but we must 
fly unto him to hide us, we must find spiritual refresh- 
ment in his ordinances, promises, and providence, get 
his wing to cover us, and his presence to be a little 
sanctuary unto us, and the joy of the Lord to be our 
strength, Psa. Ivii. 2. xci. 1. Isa. xxvi. 20. Neh. viii. 
10. When the Lord cometh out of his place to punish 
the inhabitants of the land for their iniquity ; when 
flood and fire, storm and tempest, the fury of anger, 
the strength of battle, are poured out upon a people ; 
when a destroying angel is sent abroad with a com* 
mission to kill and slay, Ezek. ix. 5, 6. when death, 
the king of terrors, rideth up and down in triumph, 
stripping men of treasures, lands, fiiends, honours^ 
pleasures, making them a house in darkness, where 
master and servant, princes and prisoners are all alike ; 
to have then an ark with Noah, a Zoar with Lot, a 
Goshen in Egypt : to have one arm of this olive-tree 
spread over us, to have one promise out of Grod's word, 
one sentence from the mouth of Christ promising 
paradise unto us, is infinitely of more value to a lan- 
guishing spirit, than all the diadems of the earth, or 
the peculiar treasure of princes. 

If we take the words in order as they lie, then the 
mercy here promised is, that when God shall restore 
and repair his church, they who dwell under the com- 
forts of it, should return and be converted to the know- 
ledge and obedience which should be there taught 
them : when the branch of the Lord is beautiful and 
glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and 
comely, then he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall bQ 

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called holy, Isa. iv. 2, 3. tiien on ttety vessel in 
Judah and Jerasalem shall be inscribed, " Holiness 
unto the Lord," Zech. xiv. 20, 21. then the heart 
of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue 
of the stammerers shall speak plainly, Isa. xxxii. 

And this should be the endeavour of every one who 
liveth under the shade of this tree, under the purity of 
God's ordinances, under the pious government and 
constitution of such a church, or &mily as is here de- 
scribed, (especially in such times when on the one 
side the world is so much loosened, and estranged 
from us ; and on the other side reformation in the 
church is so much desired,) to convert and turn unto 
the Lord. All endeavours of reformation in a church 
are miserably defective, when they come short of this 
end, (which is the ultimate reason of them all,) 
namely, the repentance and conversion of those wlto 
dwell under the shadow of it. When God promiseth to 
give unto his church the glory of Lebanon, and the 
excellency of Carmel and Sharon, the consequence of 
tliis beauty and reformation in the church is, the 
eves of the blind shall be opened, the ears of the deat 
shall be unstopped, the lame shall leap, the dumb shall 
sing, the parched ground shall be a pool, the thirsty 
land springs of water, Isa. xxxv. 5 — 7. The wotf, the 
leopard, the lion, the bear, the asp, the cockatrice, 
shall be so turned from the fierceness and malignity 
of their natures, that they shall not hurt nor destroy 
in all the holy mountain, but a little child shall lead 
iliem all, Isa. xi. 6. 9. It is a great happiness and advan- 
tage to live under the shade of a godly government ; 
many men have reason to bless God all their days, 
that they were in their childhood trained up in such 
a school, where piety was taught them as well as 

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ON H08BA XIV.*^VBRSES 5 — 7. 219 

[earning, where they had means as well of conversion, 
as of institution; that they lived in such a £Eunily 
where the master of it was of Joshua's mind, ^^ I and 
my house will serve the Lord,*' Josh. xxiv. 15. Sal- 
vation comes to a whole house, when the governor 
thereof is converted, Luke xix. 9. Acts xvi. 33, 34. 
I shall never look upon a church as reformed to pur- 
pose, till I find refonnadon work conversion ; till piety, 
and charity, and justice, and mercy, and truth, and 
humility, and gentleness, and goodness, and kindness, 
and meekness, and singleness of heart, and zeal for 
godliness, and mutual edification, and the life and 
power of religion are more conspicuous than before. 
When the very head-stone was brought forth, and the 
last work in the building of the temple was finished, 
yet the people must then cry ^^ Grace, grace unto it,'' 
Zech. iv. 7. intimating that reformation is never indeed 
consummate till the blessing of God make it effec- 
tual unto those uses for which it was by him appointed. 
Church reformation should be like Paul's epistles, 
which always close in duties of obedience. 

[7.] He promiseth, that they shall revive as the 
com, and gjrow as the vine : in which two expressions 
are set forth two excellent and wholesome conse- 
quences of aflfliction. 1. The com, though it die 
first, and suffer much from frost, hail, snow, tempest, 
yet when the spring comes, it revives and breaks 
through it all ; so God promiseth to his church in the 
saddest condition, a reviving again, and that it shall 
be brought forth into the light, £zek. xxxvii. 12. 
Mic. vii. 9. 2. The vine when it is pruned and lopped, 
will not only revive and spread again, but will bring 
forth the more fruit, and cast forth the more firagrant 
smell : so God promiseth unto his people not only a 
reviving out of their afflictions, (in which respect 

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220 FIFTH Sjc MON 

haply it was 4hat Christ was buried in a garden, to 
note that death itself doth not destroy our bodies, but 
only sow them, the dew of herbs will revive them 
again, 1 Cor. xv. 42—44.) but further a profiting by 
afflictions, that we may say with David, ^^ It is good 
for us ;" when we find it bring forth the peaceable firuits 
of righteousness after we have been exercised therein. 

And as he promiseth these tilings, so we should 
learn to turn these promises into prayer and into prac- 
tice ; when we seem in our own eyes cast out of God's 
sight, yet we must not cast them out of our sight, but 
as Jonah in the whale's belly, and as Daniel in Baby- 
lon, pray towards his holy temple still. The woman 
of Canaan would not be thrust off with a seeming re- 
jection, not utterly despond under a grievous temp- 
tation, but by a singular acumen and spiritual saga- 
city discerned matter of argument, in that which 
looked like a denial, Matt. xv. 27. Soap and fuller's 
eartlf at the first putting on seem to stain and to foul 
clothes, when the use and end is to purify them. And 
God's frowns and. delays may seem to be the denials 
of prayer, when haply his end is to make the granting 
of them the more comfort. Therefore in all troubles 
we must not give over looking towards God, but say 
with Job, ** Though he slay me, I will trust in liim." 

And after all afflictions we must learn to express 
the fruit of them, to come out of them refined, as 
silver out of the fire, to have thereby our faith 
'Strengthened, our hope confirmed, our love inflamed, 
our fruit and obedience increased, our sin taken away, 
and our iniquities purged, Isa. xxvii. 9. To be 
chastened and taught, Psa. xciv. 12. to be chastened 
and converted, Jer. xxxviii. 18. If we have run away 
firom our duties, and been cast into a whale's belly 
for it, when we are delivered, . let us be sure to look 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — VERSES 5 — 7. 221 

batter to our resolutions afterwards. After all that 
is come upon us for our sins, take heed of breaking 
his commandments again, Ezraix. 13, 14. As Job's 
riches after his, so we should endeavour that our 
graces after our afflictions may be doubled upon us, 
and that the scent of our holy example may, like 
spices bruised, or the grapes of Lebanon crushed in 
the wine-press, give a more fragrant smell to God and 
man, as the smell of a field which the Lord hath 

He promiseth that all these should be fruits of Le- 
banon, of the best and most perfect kind. There are 
many evidences of the goodness of God even in the 
lives -of Pagan men ; we read of Abimelech forbear- 
ing to sin against God, Gen. xx. 4. 6. and of his 
and Ephron's singular Idndness to Abraham, Gen. 
XX. 14, 15. xxiiL 10, 11. 15. No argument more 
common than this of the virtues, the temperance, pru- 
dence, justice, mercy, patience, fidelity, friendships, 
affiibility, magnanimity of many heathen men ; inso- 
much that some have presumed so far as to make 
them dispositive to salvation. But all these are but 
wild grapes, bitter clusters, the fruits of an empty 
vine, not worth the gathering in order to salvation : 
but the graces which God bestoweth upon his church, 
are of a more mritual and perfect nature, proceeding 
from fitith in Christ, from love of God, from a con- 
science cleansed from dead works, from an intention 
to glorify God and adorn the gospel, from a new 
nature, and firom the Spirit of Christ, conforming his 
servants unto himself: they are not grapes of Sodom, 
but grapes of Lebanon. 

And as he thus blesseth us, in the like manner 
should we serve him, not offer unto him the refuse, 
the halt, and blind, and maimed, for sacrifice, not 

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give unto hira of that which cost us nothing, but go 
to Lebanon for all our sacrifices, covet earnestly the 
best gifts, press forward and labour to perfect holiness 
in the fear of God. Give unto him our lilies, the beau- 
ties of our minority ; and our cedars, the strength of 
our youth ; and our olives, and grapes, and com, and 
wine ; whatever gifts he hath bestowed on us, use 
them unto his service and honour again ; not content 
ourselves with the form of godliness, with the morality 
of virtue, with the outside of duties, with the seeds and 
beginnings of holiness, (he has none who thinks he 
hath enough,) but strive who shall outrun one another 
unto Christ, as Peter and John did towards his sepul- 
chre. It was a high pitch which Moses aimed at, 
when he said, " I beseech thee show me thy glory,*' 
Exod. xxxiii. 18. Nothing would satisfy him but 
fulness and satiety itself Be sure that all your graces 
come from Sion, and from Lebanon, that they grow 
in Immanuel's land ; till Christ own them, God will 
not accept them. Moral virtues and outward duties, 
grapes of Sodom, may commend us unto men ; no- 
thing but inward, spiritual, and rooted graces, the 
grapes of Lebanon, will commend us unto God. To 
do only the outward works of duty, without the in 
ward principle, is at best but to make ourselves like 
those mixed beasts, elephants and camels, in the civil 
law, which, though they do the work of tame beasts, 
yet have the nature of wild ones. Moral virtue, with- 
out spiritual piety, doth not commend any man unto 
God ; for we are not accepted unto him, but in Christ, 
and we are not in Christ but by the Holy Spirit. 

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XIV. 8. 

The conversion of Israel unto God in their trouble, 
was accompanied with a petition and a covenant. A 
petition imploring mercy and grace from God, and a 
covenant promising thanksgivings and obedience unto 
him. And God is pleased in his answer to liave a 
distinct respect unto both these ; for whereas they 
petition, first for pardon, that God would take away 
all iniquity, he promiseth to heal their backslidings, 
and to love them freely ; and whereas they pray for 
blessings. Receive us into favour, do us good, God 
likewise maketh promises of that in great variety, ex- 
pressed by the several metaphors of fertility, answer- 
ing to the name and blessings promised formerly unto 
Ephraim. And all this we have hsftidled out of the 
four preceding verses. 

Now in this eighth verse, God is pleased not only 
graciously to accept, but further to put to his seal, and 
to confirm the covenant which they make, promising 
that by the assistance of his Spirit they should be 
enabled to do what they had undertaken. This is the 
greatest ground of confidence that we can h^ve to bind 
ourselves in holy covenants unto God, even the pro- 
mise of his strength and assistance enabling us to 
keep covenant with liim. Therefore when David had 

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• said, *' I have sworn and will perform it, that I will 
keep thy righteous judgments ;*' it follows a little 
aft6r, " Accept, I beseech thee, the free-will ofiferings 
of my mouth, O Lord, and teach me thy judgments," 
Psa. cxix. 106. 108. David was confident that God 
would not only accept his covenant, but teach him 
how to keep it, and that made him the more confident 
to bind himself by it. 

In the original, the words are only thus ; " Ephraim, 
what have I to do any more with idols?" which 
therefore some would have to be the words of God 
spoken unto Ephraim. But there is nothing more 
usual in scripture than an ellipsis of the verb, and we 
find this very verb om.tted, and yet necessary to be 
supplied, Isa. v. 9. and in this place the Chaldee 
paraphrast, and from him the best interpreters, with 
our translators, have supplied it. Thus, ** Ephraim 
shall say :" and so it is God's confirmation of the 
promise which penitent Ephraim had made, and his 
undertaking for nim, that he should indeed be enabled 
to perform his covenant. 

" What have I to do any more with idols V* It is 
an interrogation not on'y importing a negative, I will 
not any more have to do with them, but also a vehe- 
ment detestation* of them, and indignation against 
tliem, as that of David to Abishai, 2 Sam. xvi. 10. 
and that of Elisha to Jehoram, 2 Kings iii. 13. and 
that of the devil to Christ, Matt, viii 29. 

" With idols." The original word signifieth like- 
wise sorrows and grief of mind, a fit word to express 
their sin and repentance. What have we to do with 
these idols and sorrows any more ? They can produce 
no good, they can hear no prayers, they can work no 
deliverance, they can bring nothing but evil and 
anguish to us, and therefore we will not follow or 

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seek unto tliem any more. Here then is a solemn 
detestation as of all their other sins, so of that espe- 
cially which liad most dishonoured God, most wounded 
their own consciences, and procured most sorrow 
unto themselves, with God's confirmation of it. 

After this, follow several promises of special mercies. 
1. Of hearing and answering their prayers : ** I have 
heard" or answered him, or, as others render it, " I will 
hear him." 2. Of fatherly care and providence over 
them : " I have observed him," or fixed mine eyes upon 
him ; I have strictly considered his condition, that I 
might proportion my mercies thereunto. It is a 
symbol; (1.) Of vigilant care and most intent and 
solicitous inspection and providence ; " The eye of 
the Lord is upon them that fear him, upon them that 
hope in his mercy, to deliver their soul from death, 
and to keep them alive in famine," Psa. xx. xiii. 18, 
19. (2.) Of direction and counsel ; ** I will instruct 
thee, and teach thee in the way that thou shalt go. 
I will guide or counsel thee with mine eye," Psa. 
xxxii. 8. (3.) Of honour and exaltation ; " He 
withdraweth not his eyes from the righteous, but 
with kings are they on the throne ; yea, he doth es- 
tablish them for ever, and they are exalted," Job 
xxxvi. 7. And, (4.) It is an expression of hearing 
prayers : God is said to have his eye open unto the 
supplication of his servants, to hearken unto them in 
all that they call upon him for, 1 Kings viii. 52. and 
the ** eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and 
his ears open unto their cry," Psa. xxxiv. 1 5. The 
church had before professed herself to be an orphan, 
that stood in need of tuition and protection : and here 
God promiseth to cast his eye, and to place his affec- 
tion upon her, to look to her, to be her tutor and 
guardian, to govern her with his special providence 

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aud wisdom, to take notice of her wants, and supply 
them ; to take notice of her desires, and fulfil them ; 
to take notice of her condition, and accordingly in 
all respects to provide for her. 8. Of refreshment 
from the heat and violence of temptations, or any 
kind of afflictions, hy the metaphor of a fir-tree, 
which heing ever green, and casting a large shade, 
doth afford much comfort and revivmg to the weary 
traveller. 4. Because the fir-tree, though comfort^ 
able in regard of the sliade, is yet unfruitful ; there* 
fore he further promiseth to be a root of blessings, 
and all kind of spiritual graces unto them, " From me 
is thy fruit found ;'* that is. From me is, or shall be 
thy fruit, as Mai. ii. 6. 1 Pet ii. 22. Zeph. iii. 13. 
though the word *' found" may here seem to imply 
and direct unto an inquiry after the foundation and 
original of the fruit here mentioned. Though all thy 
fruit of good works and new obedience may seem to 
proceed from thyself, and to be thine own, yet if 
thou be carefiil to inquire after the root of them, thou 
wilt find that they come from us, though they grow 
upon thee, and that thou bringest them forth only by 
the help, supply, and vigour of my grace bestowed 
on thee : thou doest them, but the power and strength 
whereby thou doest them proceeds from me. 

These words, then, are the sum of God's answer, 
which he makes unto the covenant of his people. 
They return the calves of their lips, God hears and 
accepts tliem. They renounce carnal confidence, in 
men, in horses, in idols ; and when they look off, and 
turn away from these, then God looketh upon them 
with a fatherly eye of care, providence, counsel, and 
protection ; " I have observed him." They will not say 
any more to the work of their hands, " Ye are our 
gods," nor any longer make lies their refuge ; and God 

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enables them to do as they have said, and atfordeth 
comfort and refreshment unto them, as the shade of 
a fir-tree unto a weary traveller. Lastly, they believe 
and acknowledge that when they are fatherless, and 
destitute of all help, there is mercy in God to comfort 
and provide for them ; and this God makes good too. 
Mercy of protection, " I am as a green fir-tree ;" and 
mercy of bounty and benediction, " from me is thy 
fruit found ;'* by the one defending them a^inst their 
fears, by the other enabling them unto their duties. 
Thus God doth enlarge and proportion his mercy to 
the uttermost extent of Israel's prayer or promise, 
and when they have no help or comfort out of him, he 
himself becomes all in all unto them, making a 
thorough compensation for every thing which ttiey 
part with for his sake, and causing them to find in 
him alone all that comfort and satisfaction to their 
desires, which in vain they sought for in other things. 

The parts contain God's promise enabling Israel 
to perform theirs ; " Ephraim shall say, What have 
I to do any more with idols V and God's special re- 
gard to their prayers, ** I have h^rd him ;" to their 
persons, " and observed him ," illustrated by two meta- 
phors, the one importing protection and defence, **I 
am as a green fir-tree ;" the other, grace and bene- 
diction, " from me is thy fruit found." 

*' Ephraim shall say." This is God's speech and pro- 
mise, setting to his seal and gracious ratification to 
the covenant that Israel made, ver. 2, 8. without 
which it would have been null and void * for a man 
by believing setteth to his seal to the truth of God, 
John iii. 33. So God by assisting setteth to his seal 
to the purpose of man : but with this great difference, 
man's seal is but a subscription and confession of 
that which was firm before ; for all God's promises 

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ore yea and amen, and faith doth not put certainty 
into the promise of God, Rom. iii. 3, 4. 2 Tim. ii. 13. 
but into the heart of man concerning the promises, 
Rom. iv. 16. 2 Tim. i. 12. but God's seal is a con- 
firmation and making efficacious the promise of man, 
which otherwise would vanish into a lie ; all our 
sufficiency is from him, we can neither will, nor do 
any thing further than we receive from him both to 
will and to do. Pharaoh made promise after promise, 
and brake them as fast, Exod. viii. 8. 28. ix. 28. 
Israel makes promises one while, and quickly starts 
aside like a deceitful bow, as ice which melts in the 
day, and hardens again in the night, Psa. Ixxviii. 34. 
38. Jer. xxxiv. 15, 16. to-day they will, and to-mor> 
row they will not again ; they repent to-day, and to 
morrow they repent of their repenting ; like th« 
sluggard in his bed, that puts out his arm to rise, and 
then pulls it in again. So unstable and impotent ia 
man in all his resolutions, till God say amen to what 
he purposeth, and establisheth the heart by his own 
grace, Heb. xiii. 9. When the waters stood as a 
wall on the right hand and on the left of Israel, as 
they passed through the Red Sea, this was a work of 
God*s own power ; for water is unstable, and cannot 
keep together by its own strength, nor be cont^dned 
within any bounds of its own. So great a work is it 
to see the mutable wills and resolutions of men kept 
close to any pious and holy purposes. 

The point we learn from hence is this, that our 
conversion and amendment of life is not sufficiently 
provided for by the band, obligation, or covenant of 
our own, whereby we solemnly promise and undertake 
it, except God be pleased by his free grace to esta- 
blish and enable the heart unto the performanceof it : 
or thus, a penitent man's conversion and covenant 

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ON HOSEA XIV. — ^VERSE 8. 229 

of new obedience hath its firmness in the promise and 
free grace of God. Israel here in the confidence of 
God's mercy prays for pardon and blessings ; and in 
the confidence of his grace, maketh promise of re- 
formation and amendment of life ; but all this is but 
like a written instrument or indenture, which is in- 
valid and of no effect, till thie parties concerned have 
mutually sealed and set to their hands. Till God be 
pleased to promise us that we shall do that which we 
have promised unto him, and do as it were make our 
own covenants for us, all will prove too weak and 
vanishing to continue. The grace of God unto the 
purposes of men is like grain to colours died, or like 
oil to colours in a table or picture, which makes them 
hold fresh, and not fade away. 

There is a necessary and indissoluble dependence 
of all second causes upon the first, without whose 
influence and concurrence they never live, move, 
have, or continue in their being. Acts xvii. 28. Heb. 
i. 3. He who is first of causes, and last of ends, 
doth use and direct the necessary, voluntary, contin- 
gent motions and activities of all second causes unto 
whatsoever ends he himself is pleased to pre-ordain. 
And this the natural and necessary concatenation of 
things doth require, that that which is the most ab- 
solute, supreme, first, and most independent will, 
wisdom, and power of all others, should govern, order, 
and direct all other wills, powers, and wisdoms that 
are subordinate to, and inferior to it, unto what- 
soever uses and purposes he who hath the absolute 
dominion and sovereignty over all, is pleased to ap- 
point It cannot be other than a marvellous dimi- 
nution unto the greatness of God, and a too low 
esteem of the absoluteness of that majesty which 
l)elongs unto him, to make any counsels, decrees, 

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or purposes of his to receive their ultimate form and 
stamp from the previous and intercurrent casualties 
or conditions of the creature. This I have always 
looked on as the principal cause of those dangerous 
errors concerning grace, free wiU, and the decrees oi 
God, wherewith the churches of Christ have been so 
miserably in the former ages, and in this of ours, 
exercised by the subtlety of Satan, and by the pride 
of corrupt-minded men ; namely, the too low and 
narrow thoughts and conception which men have 
framed to themselves of God, the not acquiescing in 
his sovereign dominion and absolute power of dispos- 
ing all things which he made, unto whatsoever uses 
he himself pleaseth : into which I am sure the holy 
scripture doth resolve all, Matt, xviii. 25, 26. Rom. 
ix. 18. 21. xi. 33. 36. Eph. i. 5. 9. 11. Psa. 
cxxxv. 6. 

Even in the sinful actions of men, God's influence 
and providence hath a particular hand. As actions, 
his influence ; as sinful, his providence. 1. His in- 
fluence to the natural motion and substance of the 
action, though not to the wickedness of it ; for this 
standeth not in being or perfection (else the fountain 
of being and perfection must needs be the first cause 
of it) but in defect and privation of perfection. As 
when a hand draweth a line by a crooked rule, the 
line is from the hand, but the crookedness of it is 
from the rule : or, as when a man goeth lamely, the 
motion as motion is from the natur^ faculty, but the 
lameness of the motion is from the defect and vicious- 
ness of the faculty. A swearer could not speak an 
oath, nor a murderer reach out his hand to strike a 
blow, but by the force of those natural Acuities which 
in and from God have all their being and working. 
But that these natural motions are by profaneness 

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or malice directed unto ends morally wicked, this 
proceedeth from the viciousness and defect which is 
m the second cause making use of God's gifts unto 
his own dishonour. 2. The providence of God hath 
a notable hatid in the guiding, ordering, and disposing 
of these actions, as sinful, unto the ends of his own 
glory in the declaration of his power, wisdom, and 
justice, unto which the sins of wicked men are perforce 
carried on, contrary to those ends which they them- 
selves in sinning <£d propose unto themselves. As 
an artificer useth the force of natural causes unto 
artificial effects: as a huntsman useth the natural 
enmity of the dog against the fox or wolf, unto the 
preservation of the lambs which otherwise would be 
destroyed; though the dog himself by nature is as 
great an enemy to the lamb as the fox. As the Pha- 
risees were as great enemies to religion as the Sad- 
ducees, yet Paul wisely made use of their enmity 
amongst themselves for his own preservation and 
deliverance from them both. Nothing more usual 
than for God to manage and direct the sins of men to 
the bringing about of his own purposes and counsels. 
Gen. 1. 20^ 1 Sam. ii. 25. 1 Kings ii. 26, 27. 2 Sam. 
xii. 11. compared with 2 Sam. xvi. 22. Isa. x. 5—7. 
Acts iv. 28. Psa. Ixxvi. 10. But now unto gracious 
actions^ which belong not at all unto nature as nature, 
but only as inspired and actuated with spiritual and 
heavenly principles, a more singular and notable 
influence of God is required, not only to the substance 
of the action, but more especially to the rectitude and 
goodness of it ; for we have no sufficiency of our- 
selves, not so much as unto the first offers and be- 
ginnings of good in our thoughts, 2 Cor. iil 5. When 
we are bid to work out our own salvation with fear 
and trembling, it must be in dependence on the power, 

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and in confidence of the aid of God, for it is he that 
worketh in us both to will and to do, Phil. ii. 1 1 — 13. 
when we covenant to turn unto God, we must withal 
pray unto him to turn us. Lam. v. 21. Jer. xxxi. 
God commands us to turn ourselves, and to make 
us a new heart and a new spirit, that we may live, 
Ezek. xviii. 30—32. but withal, he telleth us that it 
is he who gives us one heart, and one way, and a 
new spirit, that we may walk in his statutes, Ezek. 
xi. 19, 20, Jer. xxxii. 39. He giveth us the power 
to make us able, the heart to make us willing, the 
art to walk, the proficiency to improve, the persever- 
ance to finish and perfect holiness. David cannot 
run in the wiy of God's commandments, till he en- 
large his heart, Psa. cxix. 32. nothing can find the 
way to heaven, but that which co>::;ies first from hea- 
yen, John iii. 13. we cannot give unto God any thing 
but of his own, " Who am I," saith David, " and 
what is my people that we should be able to offer so 
willingly after this sort ? for all things come of thee, 
and of thine own have we given thee," 1 Chron. 
xxix. 14. 

For the further understanding of this point, and of 
the sweet concord and concurrence between the will 
of man converted, and the effectual grace of God con- 
verting, we shall set down these few propositions. 

I. That tliere is in man by nature a power or fa- 
culty which we call free will, whereunto belongeth 
such an indifferency and indeterminacy in the manner 
of working, that whether a man will a thing, or nil! 
it, choose it, or turn from it, he doth in neither move 
contrary to his own natural principles of working 
A stone moving downward, doth move naturally, 
upward, contrary to its nature, and so violently. But 
wliich way soever the will moves, it moves according 

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ON HOSEA XIV. VEllSE 8. 288 

to the condition of its created being, wherein it was 
so made, as when it chose one part of a contradiction, 
it retained an inward and fundamental habitude unto 
the other, like those gates which are so made, as that 
they open both ways. So that as the tongue which 
was wont to swear or blaspheme, when it is converted, 
doth by the force of the same faculty of speaking, 
being newly sanctified, utter holy and gracious 
speeches : so the will, which being corrupted did choose 
evil, and only evil, being sanctified, doth ufe the same 
manner of operation in choosing that which is good : 
the created nature of it remaining etill one and the 
same, but being now guided and sanctified by dif- 
ferent principles. This we speak only with respect 
to the natural manner of its working ; for if we speak 
of liberty in a moral or theological sense, so it is cer- 
tain, that the more the will of man doth observe the 
right order of its proper objects, and last end, the 
more free and noble it is, (the very highest perfection 
of free will standing in an immutable adherency unto 
God, as the ultimate end of the creature, and all 
ability of receding or falling from him being the de- 
ficiency and not the perfection of free will.) And 
therefore the more the will of man doth cast ofi^ and 
reject God, the more base, servile, and captive it 
grows. In which sense we afiSrm against the papists, 
that by nature man since the fall of Adam, hath no 
free will or natural power to believe and turn unto 
God, or to prepare himself thereunto. 

II. In man fallen, and being thereby universally 
in all his faculties leavened with vicious and malignant 
principles, there is a native pravity and' corrupt force, 
which putteth forth itself in resisting all those power- 
ful workings of the word and Spirit of grace, that 
oppose themselves against the body of sin, and move 

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the will unto holy resolutions : for the wisdom of the 
flesh cannot be subject unto the law of God, Rom. 
viii. 7. The flesh will lust against the spirit, as being 
contrary thereunto. Gal. v. 17. an uncircumcised 
heart will always resist the Holy Spirit, Acts vii. 51. 
there is such a natural antipathy between the purity 
of the word and the impurity of the will of man, that 
he naturally refuseth to hear, and snufleth at it, and 
pulleth away the shoulder, and hardeneth the heart, 
and stopplth the ears, and shutteth the eyes, and set- 
teth up strong holds, and high reasonings against 
the ways of God, and is never so well as when he can 
get off all sights and thoughts of God, and be as it 
were without God in the world, Jer. v. 3. vi. 10. 17. 
23. xix. 15. Mai. i. 13. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 16. 
. 111. According to the degrees and remainders of 
this natural corruption, so far forth as it is unmortified 
and unsubdued by the power of grace, this original 
force doth proportionably put forth itself in with- 
standing and warring against the Spirit of God even 
in the regenerate themselves. A notable example 
whereof we have in Asa, of whom it is said, that he 
was wrath with Hanani, the seer, and put him in a 
prison-house, and was in rage with him, when he 
reproved him for his carnal confidence, 2 Chron. 
xvi. 10. and the apostle doth in many words both 
state, and bewail the warring of the law of his mem- 
bers against the law of his mind, so that when be did 
with the one serve the law of God, he did with the 
other serve the law of sin, and was unable to do the 
thing which he would, and the evil which he would 
not, he did do by the strength of sin that dwelt in 
him, Rom. vii. 14, 15. 

IV. We are to distinguish of the will of God, which 
is set forth in scripture two manner of ways : there 

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ON HOBEA XIV. — ^ERSE 8. 235 

is that will of God whereby he requires us to work, 
and which he hath appointed to be observed by us. 
His will signified in precepts and prohibitions. ** This 
is the will of God," saith the apostle, " even your sanc- 
tification," 1 Tliess. iv. 3. So we are said to prove, to 
try, to do God's will, or that which is pleasing in Ids 
sight. Matt. vii. 21. Rom. xii. 2. John viii. 29. and 
there is the will of his purpose and counsel, according 
unto which he himself in his own secret and un- 
searchable good pleasure is pleased to work ; for he 
worketh all things after the counsel of his own will, 
Eph. i. 11. whatsoever the Lord pleaseth, that he doth 
in heaven and earth, Psa. cxxxv. 6. And no second 
causes can do any thing else, though they ever so 
proudly break the order of God's revealed will, but 
what his hand and counsel had before determined, 
Acts iv. 28. The will of God's precept and command 
is every day violated, resisted, and broken through 
by wicked men unto their own destruction. " How 
often would I, and ye would not V* Matt, xxiii. 37, 
Jer. xiii. 11. But the will of God's counsel and 
purpose cannot be resisted nor withstood by all the 
powers of the world ; the counsel of the Lord must 
stand ; and those very agents that work purposely to 
disappoint and subvert it, do by those very workings 
of theirs bring it to pass : and when by their own 
intentions they are enemies to it, by God's wonderful 
ordering and directing, they are executioners of it, 
Rom. ix. 19. Psa. xxxiii. 11. cxv. 8. Prov. xix. 21. 
isa. xlvi, 10. Josh. xxiv. 9, 10. 

v. According unto this distinction of God's will, 
we are to distinguish of his calL Some are called 
by the will of his precept, when they have the will 
of- God made, known unto them, and are thereby 

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persuaded unto the obedience of it in the ministry of 
the gospel ; in which sense our Saviour saith, " Many- 
are called, but few chosen," Matt. xx. 16. and unto 
those who refuse to come unto him that they might 
have life, he yet saith, ** These things I say that you 
might be saved," John v. 34. 40. Others are called, 
ordained first unto eternal life by the free love and 
grace of God, and then thereunto brought by the 
execution of that his decree and purpose in the power- 
ful calling and translating them from darkness unto 
light* And this is to be called according unto pur- 
pose, Rom. viii. 28. namely, the purpose and counsel 
of showing mercy to whom he will show mercy, 
Rom. ix. 18. 

VI. They who are called, only as the hen calletli 
her chickens, with the mere outward call or voice of 
Christ in the evangelical ministry, may and do resist 
this call, and so perish: Chorazin, and Bethsaida, 
and Capernaum, were outwardly called by the most 
powerful ministerial means that ever the world en- 
joyed, both in doctrine and miracles ; and yet our 
Saviour tells them that they shall be in a worse con- 
dition in the day of judgment than Tyre, Sidon, or 
Sodom, Matt. xi. 21. 24. So the prophet complainB, 
" Who hath believed our report ? or to whom is the arm 
of the Lord revealed?'* Isa. liii. 1. Which the evan- 
gelist applies unto the argument of conversion, John 
xii. 37. 40. for so the hand or arm of the Lord is said 
to be with his ministers, when by their ministry men 
do turn to the Lord, Acts xi. 21. And the same 
prophet again, or Christ in him, complains, *' All the 
day long have I stretched forth my Imnds unto a dis- 
obedient and gainsaying people," Isa. Ixv. 2. Rom. 
X. 21. So disobedient and gainsaying, that we find 

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them resolve sometimes point blank, contrary to the 
call of God, Jer. xliv. 16. 27. xviii. 11, 12. ii. 25. 
Matt, xxiii. 37. 

VII. They who are called inwardly and spiritually 
with a heavenly call, with such a call as pursueth the 
counsel and purpose of God for their salvation, though 
they do resist, and corruption in them doth strive to 
bear up against the grace of Christ, yet they do not 
resist finaUy unto the repelling or defeating of the 
operation of God's effectual grace : but they are 
thereby framed to embrace, approve, and submit unto 
that call, God himself working a good will in them, 
captivating their thoughts unto the obedience of 
Christ, and working in them that which is pleasing 
in hia own sight, Phil. ii. 13. 2 Cor. x. 5. Heb. 
xiii. 21. 

And this is done by a double act. 

1. An act of spiritual teaching, and irradiating the 
mind and judgment with heavenly light, called by 
the prophet the writing of the law in the heart, and 
putting it into the inward parts, Jer. xxxi. 33. 2 Cor. 
iii 3. and by our Saviour, the Father's teaching, John 
vi. 45. and the Holy Spirit's convincing of sin, righ- 
teousness, and judgment, John xvi. 8 — 1 1. and by the 
apostle, a denaonstration of the Spirit and power, 
1 Cor. iL 4. A spiritual revelation of wisdom out of 
the word unto the conscience, Eph. i. 17. For though 
we are to condemn j&matical revelations besides the 
word, and without it ; yet we must acknowledge spi- 
ritual revelation, or manifestation of the divine light 
and power of the word, by the Holy Spirit, in the 
mincb of men converted : for the word of God being 
a spiritual object, doth unto the saving knowledge 
of it require such a spiritual quality in the faculty 
whiph must know it, as may be able to pass a right 

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judgment upon it ; for spiritual things are spiritually 
discerned, 1 Cor. ii. 14. It is true, that hypocrites 
and other wicked men may have very much notional 
and inteUectual knowledge of the scriptures, and those 
holy things therein revealed, Heb. vi. 4. 2 Pet. ii. 21. 
But none of that knowledge amounteth unto that 
which is called the teaching of God, and a spiritual 
demonstration : for the mysteries of the gospel were 
unto this end revealed, that by them we might be 
brought unto the obedience of Christ ; and therefore 
the knowledge of them is never proportioned or com- 
mensurate to the object, till the mind be thereby made 
conformed unto Christ, till the conceptions which are 
framed in us touching God, and sin, and grace, and 
heaven, and eternal things, be suitable to those which 
were in the mind of Christ, 1 Cor. ii. 16. Evange- 
lical truths are not fitted unto mere intellectual, but 
unto practical judgment. It is such a knowledge of 
Christ as may fill us with the fulness of God, Eph. 
iii. 18, 19. A knowledge that must work communion 
with Christ, and conformity unto him, Phil. iii. 10. 
A knowledge that must produce a good conversation, 
James iii. 13. '^ He that* saith he knoweth him, 
and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the 
truth is not in him," 1 John ii. 3, 4. We do not 
know Christ till we know him as our chief good, as 
our choicest treasure, as our unsearchable riches, as 
elect, and precious, and desirable, and altogether 
lovely ; and the fairest of ten thousand, and worthy 
all acceptation, in comparison of whom all the world 
besides is as dung. The knowledge of Christ is not 
seeing only, but seeing and tasting, Psa. xxxiv. 8. 
cxix. 103. And therefore they who in one sense are 
said to have known God, Rom. i. 21. are yet in the 
same place, ver. 28. sakl not to have God in their 

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ksowledge. It is an excellent speech of the philo- 
sopher, that such as every man is in himself, such is 
the end that he works unto, and such notions he hath 
of that good which is his end. And therefore it is 
impossible that a wicked frame of heart can ever 
look upon any supernatural object as his last end, or 
as principally desirable. If I should see a* man 
choose a small trifle before a rich jewel, however he 
should profess to know the excellency, and to value 
the ricmiess of &at jewel ; yet I should conclude that 
he did not indeed understand the worth of it aright 
And therefore unto the perfect and proper knowledge 
of supernatural things, there is required a special work 
of the grace and Spirit of Christ opening the heart, 
and working it to a spiritual constitution proportion- 
able to such kind of truths about which it is con- 
versant The scripture every where attributeth this 
work unto God, and his Spirit : it is he that giveth a 
heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, 
Deut. xxix. 4. It is he that giveth a heart to know 
him, Jer. xxiv. 7. It is he that manifesteth himself 
unto those that love him, John xiv. 21. It is he that 
revealeth unto us by his Spirit the things of God, 
1 Cor. ii. 10. It is he that giveth us an understanding, 
1 John V. 20. and that opens the understanding to 
understand the scriptures, Luke xxiv. 45. Acts xvi. 
14. It is he that teacheth us to call Christ our Lord, 
Matt. xvi. 17. 1 Cor. xii. 8. for the voice of carnal 
and corrupt reason is, *' We will not have this man 
to reign over us," Luke xix. 14. Every man natu- 
rally frameth and shapeth his notions of doctrinal 
matters unto the manner of his conscience and con- 
versation, embracing that which is consonant, and 
rejecting that which is dissonant thereunto, Mic. ii. 
11. Isa. XXX. 10, 11. To the unclean every thing is 

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unclean, because the very mind and conscience of 
such men is defiled, Tit. i. 15. This then is the first 
work in effectual calling, the opening of the eye of 
the mind rightly to conceive of the things of God, 
of the guilt of sin, of the heaviness of wrath, of the 
peril of perishing, of the weight and moment of dam* 
nation and salvation, of the things that concern its 
everlasting peace, of the righteousness of Christ, of 
the beauties of holiness, of the exceeding abundant 
weight of glory, of the comforts of the Holy Spirit, 
and the unspeakable and glorious joy shed forth into 
the heart by believing. These truths the heart is 
so convinced of, as seriously to ponder them, and to 
fix its deepest and saddest considerations upon them. 
2. An act of spiritual inclining and effectual deter- 
mining the will of man to embrace the ultimate 
dictate of a mind thus enlightened, and to make a 
most free, spontaneous, and joyful choice of super- 
natural good things thus rightly apprehended, upon 
a clear and deliberate consideration of their excellency 
above all other things, Phil. iii. 8. This act of 
choosing the Lord for our portion and chiefest good ; 
and of cleaving unto him, we find often mentioned in 
the scripture, Deut. xxx. 19. Josh. xxiv. 22. Psa. 
Ixxxiv. 10. Heb. xi. 25. Acts xi. 23. Psa. cxix. 30, 
81. 173. When the soul of a man is so thoroughly 
by God's teaching convinced of the danger and misery 
of sin, wherein so long as a man continueth he lives 
Only to dishonour God, and to undo himself; he prizes 
the benefit of righteousness in Christ, whereby he is 
reconciled unto God, and adopted unto a glorious 
inheritance ; and of the beauty of holiness, whereby 
he is conformed unto Christ his head, and fitted for 
the inheritance. These previous acts of heavenly 
teaching, are always seconded with effectual operations 

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ON H08EA XIV. — VERSE 8. 241 

upon the will, suitable unto themselves : for the Uberty 
of the will doth not stand in a peremptory indifferency 
unto any object whatsoever ; (else there should be no 
liberty in heaven;) this is a defect and imperfection, 
not any matter of power or freedom. But the liberty 
of will standeth in this, that being a reasonable ap- 
petite, it is apt to be led one way or another, to choose 
one thing or another, according to the dictates of 
reason, and with subjection to that which is made 
appear to be the supreme end and happiness of the 
soul; for every faculty is naturally subservient to 
the ultimate good of that nature whereof it is a 
faculty, and should monstrously exorbitate* from its 
use and end, if it .should put forth itself to the de- 
struction, or refuse to close with that which is the 
happiness of the soul unto which it pertains. As 
soon as ever therefore the Spirit of grace doth by 
such a spiritual and practical demonstration as hath 
been described, set forth God in Christ as the supreme 
and most unquestionable end and happiness of the 
soul, there are consequently suitable impressions upon 
the will, determining it unto operations conformable 
unto such a beautiful and glonous object, and en- 
larging it to run unto this centre, to renounce all 
other things, and to cleave only unto this. 

And these acts upon the will are, 

(1.) By preventingt grace, it is bent and excited 
unto heavenly objects, and unto the choice of such 
spiritual good things, the sovereign excellences 
whereof have been so sweetly represented. Good is 
the object of the will ; we cannot will evil under the 
notion of evil : and amongst good things, that which 
IS by the practical judgment resolved to be best, and 
.hat by the teaching of God himself, who neither is 
* Depart; deviate. f Going befoie. 

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deceived, nor can deceive, is the object of the will's 
election : and thus God by his exciting grace worketh 
in us that every act whereby we choose Christ, and 
subscribe our name in the call of his soldiers and 
servants, answering the call of God by a most cheer^ 
ful consent thereunto. 

(2.) By assisting and co-operating grace, it is fur- 
ther enabled to put forth this good will into deed, and 
so to work towards its salvation, Isa. xxvi. 12. 
1 Cor. XV. 10. 

Lastly, by subsequent grace, it is carried on towards 
perfection, to finish what was begun, and so to pro« 
ceed from the beginning of faith in vocation, to the 
end of faith in salvation, the Spirit of Christ working 
in us, as he himself did work for us, unto a consum- 
mation, saving to the uttermost those that come unto 
God by him, Phil. i. 6. 1 Pet. i. 9, 10. Eph. iv. 13. 
Heb. vii. 25. 

And by this means the native obstinacy of the will 
both in and after conversion is subdued, so that it 
neither doth nor can overcome the grace of God 
working effectually with his word: 1. Because of 
the pui^ose of God, to show mercy where he will 
show mercy, which can in no wise be resisted. 
2. Because of the power of God, in the effec- 
tual applying of that mercy unto the souls of men 
widi admirable sweetness, with undeniable evidence, 
with inaflable persuasion, with omnipotent and in- 
vincible energy, which no hardness of heart is able to 
refuse, because the proper operation of it is to take 
away thajt hardness which would refuse it ; and that 
by an act of equal power with that whereby Christ 
was rmsed from the dead, which all the world was 
not able ito hinder or prevent, Eph. i. 10. Col. ii. 13. 
1 Pet. i, 5. Thus we see, though we desire, and 

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endeavour, and purpose, and covenant conversion and 
amendment of life ; yet the whole progress of con- 
version, our promisee, our covenants, our abilities, 
our sufficiencies to make good any thing do all receive 
their stability from the grace of God. 

From whence we learn, not to put confidence in 
our own studies, vows, purposes, promises of new 
obedience. Every man is a liar ; no sooner left unto 
himself, but he becomes a miserable spectacle of 
weakness and mutability. Even Adam in innocency 
when he was to be supported and to persevere, by his 
own strength, though he had no sin or inward cor- 
ruption to betray him, how suddenly was he thrown 
down from his excellency by Satan with a poor and 
slender temptation ! How strangely did a creature 
of so high and noble a constitution exchange God 
himself for the fruit of a tree ! believe a serpent before 
a Maker! and was so miserably cheated as to suppose 
that by casting away God's image, he should become 
the more like him ! Who could have thought that 
David, a man after God's own heart, with on^ mis- 
carrying glance of his eye should have been plunged 
into such a gulf of sin and misery as he fell into ? 
that so spiritual and heavenly a soul should be so 
suddenly overcome with so sensual a temptation? 
that so merciful and righteous a man should so greatly 
wrong a faithful servant as he did Uriah, and then 
make the innocent blood of him whom he wronged, 
a mantle to palliate and to cover the wrong, and 
made use of his fidelity to convey the letters and 
instructions for his own ruin ? Who could have thought 
that Lot, so soon after he had been delivered from 
fire and brimstone, and vexed with the filthy conver- 
sation of the men of Sodom, should be himself in- 
flamed with unnatural, incestuous lust? Who could 

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have suspected that Peter, who had his name fiom a 
rock, should be so soon shaken Uke a reed, and after so 
solemn a protestation not to forsake Christ though all 
else should, to be driven with the voice of a maid 
from his stedfastness, and with oaths and curses to be 
the first that denied liim ? Surely every man in his 
best estate is altogether vanity ! 

Therefore it behoveth us to be always humbled in 
tlie sight of ourselves, and to be jealous of our original 
impotency unto the doing of any good, unto the for- 
bearing of any evil, unto the repelling of any tempta- 
tion by our own power : " In his own might shall no 
man be strong,'' 1 Sam. ii. 9. To be a sinner and 
to be without strength, are terms equivalent in the 
apostle, Rom. v. 6. 8. Nay even where there is a 
will to do good, there is a defect of power to perform 
it, Rom. vii. 18. our strength is not in ourselves, but 
in the Lord, and in the power of his might, and in the 
working of his Spirit, in our inner man, Eph. vi. 10. 
iii. 19. Phil. iv. 13. If but a good thought arise in 
our mind, or a good desire and motion be stirring in 
our heart, or a good word drop. from our lips, we have 
great cause to take notice of the grace of God that 
offered it to us^ and wrought it in us, and to wonder 
how any of the fruit of paradise could grow in so 
heathy a wilderness. 

We ought likewise to be jealous of our natural 
antipathy and reluctancy unto holy duties ; our apt- 
ness to draw back towards perdition ; to refuse and 
thrust away the offers and motions of grace ; our re- 
bellion which ariseth from the law of the members 
acainst the law of the mind ; the continual droppings 
of a corrupt heart upon any of the tender buds and 
sproutings of piety that are wrought within us, our 
aptness to. be weary of the yoke, and to shake off the 

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burden of Christ from our shoulders, Isa. xliii. 23. 
our natural levity and inconstancy of spirit in any 
holy resolutions, continuing as a morning dew, which 
presently is dried up, beginning in the spirit, and 
ending in the flesh, having interchangeable fits of the 
one and the other; like the polypus, now of one 
colour, and anon of another ; now hot with zeal, and 
anon cold with secmity ; now following Moses with 
songs of thanksgiving for deliverance out of Egypt, 
and quickly after thrusting Moses away, and in heart 
returning unto Egypt again. Such a discomposed, 
ness and natural instability there is in the spirit of 
man, that, like strings in an instrument, it is apt to 
be altered with every change of weather ; nay, while 
you are playing on it, you must ever and anon be 
new turmng it ; like water heated, which is always 
offering to reduce itself to its own coldness. No 
longer sun, no longer liffht ; no lon^r Christ, no 
longer grace. If his back be at any time upon us, 
our back will iminediately be turned from him ; like 
those forgetful creatures in Seneca, who even whi]e 
they are eating, if they happen to look aside from their 
meat, immediately lose the thoughts of it, and go 
about seeking for more. 

And we ought also to be jealous of the manifold 
decays and abatements of the grace of God in us, our 
aptness to leave our first love. Rev. ii. 4. How did 
Hezekiah Mi into an impolitic vain<glory, in show- 
ing all his treasures unto the ambassadors of a foreign 
prince, thereby kindling a desire in him to be master 
of so rich a land, as soon as God left him unto him- 
self, 2 Kings XX. 12, 13. How quickly without con- 
tinual husbandry will a garden or vineyard be wasted 
and overgrown with weeds ! How easily is a ship 
when it is at the very shore, carried with a storm 

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back into the se^ again ! How quickly will a curious 
watch, if it lie open, gather dust into the wheels, and 
be out of order ! Tliough therefore thou have found 
sweetness in religion, joy in the Holy Spirit^ com- 
fort, yea . heaven in good duties, power against cor- 
ruptions, strength against temptations, triumph over 
afflictions, assurance of God's favour, vigour, life, and 
great enlargement of heart in the ways of godliness ; 
yet for all this be not high<minded, but fear. Re- 
member the flower that is wide open in the morning, 
when the sun shines upon it, may be shut up in the 
evening, before night come. If the sun had not 
stood stilly Joshua had not taken vengeance on the 
enemy, Josh. x. 13. and if the Sun of righteousness 
do not constantly shine upon us and supply us, we 
shall not be able to pursue and carry on any victo- 
rious affections. While God openeth his hand thou 
art filled, but if he withdraw his face, thou wilt be 
troubled again, Psa. civ. 28, 29. Therefore take 
heed of resting on thine own wisdom or strengtb. 
Thou mayest after all this grieve the Spirit of God, 
and cause him to depart and hide himself from thee : 
thou mayest fall from thy stedfastness, and lose thy 
wonted comforts; thou mayest have a dead winter 
upon the face of thy conscience, and be brought to 
such a sad and disconsolate condition, as to conclude 
that God hath cast thee out of his sight, that he hath 
forgotten to be gracious, and hath shut up his loving- 
kindness in displeasure ; to roar out for anguish of 
spirit as one whose bones are broken ; thy soul may 
draw nigh to the grave, and thy life to the destroyers, 
and thou mayest find it a woful and a most insuper- 
able difficulty to recover thy life and strength again. 
It was so with Joh, chap. x. 16, 17. xiii. 26 — 28. 
xvi. 9. 13. xxK. 15. 31. It was so with David, 

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Psa. li. 8. Ixxvii. 2—4. It was so with Bemap, 
Psa. Ixxxviii. and divers others^ See Job xxxiiL 
19. 22. Psa. X. 3. 11. Isa. liv. 6. 11. Jonah ii. 3, 4. 
Therefore we should still remember in a calm to pro- 
vide for a storm ; to stir up the graces of God con- 
tinually in ourselves that they be not quenched, 
2 Tim. i. 6. So to rejoice in tlie Lord, as withal to 
work out our salvation with fear and trembling, Psa. 
ii. 11. Phil. ii. 12, 13. never to let the grace of God 
puff us up, or make us forgetful of our own weakness; 
but as the apostle saith of himself in regard of God's 
grace, " When I am weak, then am I strong," 2 Cor. 
xii. 10. so to say of ourselves in regard of our own 
natural corruption, When I am strong, then I am 

Again, this must not so humble us as to deject and 
dismay us, or make us give over the hope of holding 
out to the end, when our nature is so weak, our ene^ 
mies so strong, our temptations so many: but we 
must withal be quickened by these considerations, 
with prayer to implore, and with faith to rely on and 
draw strength from the word and grace of God, to 
have always the window of the soul open towards the 
Sun of righteousness, whereby the supplies of his 
grace to prevent, excite, assist, follow, establish us, 
and carry on every good thing which he hath begun 
for us, may be continually admitted. This is one of 
the most necessary duties for a christian, to hold 
constant and fixed purposes in godliness : the scripture 
frequently calls upon us for them, that with purpose 
of heart we should cleave unto God, Acts xi. 23. 
That we should continue in the grace of God, Acts 
xiii. 43. That we would be root^ and grounded in 
love, Eph. iii. 17. that we would hold fast the pro- 
fession of our faith without wavering, Heb. x. 23 

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tliat we would be stedfast and unmovable, always 
abounding in the work of the Lord, 1 Cor. xv* 58. 
that we would look to ourselves, that we may not 
lose the things which we have wrought, 2 John 8. 
that we would hold fast and keep the works of Christ 
unto the end, Rev. ii. 25, 26. and it is that which 
godly men are most earnestly solicitous about, and 
do strive unto with greatest importunity. ** I have 
purposed that my mouth shall not transgress," Psa. 
xvii. 3. *• Unite my heart to fear thy name," Psa. 
Ixxxvi. 11. " My heart is fixed O God, my heart is 
fixed, I will sing and give praise," Psa. Ivii. 7. There- 
fore in this case it is necessary for us to draw nigh 
unto God, who only can ratify all our pious resolu* 
tions ; who giveth power to the feint, and to them 
that have no power increaseth strength, Isa. xl. 29. 
who only can settle and stablish the hearts of men, 
1 Pet. V. 10. The conscience of our duty, the sense 
of our frailty, the power, malice, and cunning of our 
enemies, the obligation of our covenant, should direct 
the soul perpetually unto God for the supply of his 
grace, that it may in all our weaknesses be sufficient 
for us, and hold us up that we may be safe, as the 
psaltnist speaks, Psa. cxix. 117. and may never through 
infirmity or unstableness of spirit violate oUr own 

Further, this is a matter of great comfort unto the 
godly, that in the midst of so many temptations, 
snares, impediments, amongst which we walk, not 
only the safety of our souls, and security of our 
eternal salvation ; but even our present condition in 
this life, our conversion, our obedience, all our pious 
purposes of heart, all the progress we make in a holy 
conversation ; do not depend upon the weakness and 
uncertainty of a human Will, but upon the infellible 

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ON HO«EA XIV. — VERSE 8. 249 

truth, the constant promise, the immtttabld^ purpose, 
the invincible power, the free love, the absolute grace, 
the omnipotent wisdom and working of God, who doth 
whatsoever he pleaseth both in heaven and earth, and 
worketh all things by the counsel of his own will, *' I 
the Lord change not, therefore the sons of Jacob are 
not consumed," Mai. iii. 6. We poor and weak men 
change with every wind ; strong to-day, and weak to- 
morrow ; fixed and resolute to-day, shaken and stag- 
gering to-morrow ; running forward to-day, and re- 
volting as fast to-morrow ; no hold to be taken of 
our promises, no trust to be given to our covenants, 
like Peter on the water, we walk one step, and we 
sink another. All our comfort is this, our strength 
and standing is not founded in ourselves, but in the 
rock whereon we are built, and in the power of God, 
by which we are kept through faith unto salvation, 
out of whose hands none are able to pluck us ; our 
very actions are wrought in us, and carried on unto 
their end by tlie power of Christ, who hath mercy, 
wisdom, and strength enough to rescue us, as from 
the power of hell and death, so from the danger of 
our own sickly and firoward hearts. To see a man 
when he is half a mile from his enemy draw a sword 
to encounter him, or take up a stone to hit him, would 
be but a ridiculous spectacle : for what could he da 
with such weapons by his own strength at such a 
distance ? But if he mount a cannon, and point that 
level against the enemy, this we do not wonder at, 
though the distance be so great ; because Uiough the 
action be originally his, yet the effect of- it proceedeth 
firom the force of the materials and instruments which 
he useth, to wit, the powder, the ball, the fire, the 
cannon. It seemed absurd in the eye of the enemy/ 
for little David with a shepherd's bag, and a sling, 

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to go against Goliath, an armed giant : and it pto^ 
duced in his proud heart much disdain and msultation, 
1 Sam. xvii. 41—48. Bat when We hear David 
mention the name of God, in the strength and confi- 
dence whereof he came against so proud an enemy, 
this makes us conclude weak David strong enough to 
encounter with great Gpliath. It is not our own 
strength, but the love of God which is the foundation 
of our triumph oVer all enemies, Rom. viii. 38, 39. 
! But some will then say, Tlien we may be secure, if 
God's grace and power be our alone strength, then 
let us commit ourselves &nd our salvation unto him, 
and in the mean time give over all thoughts and care 
of it ourselves, and live as we list ; no aet of ours can 
frustrate the counsel of the love of God. To this we 
answer with the apostle, God forbid ! Though the 
enemies of free grace do thus argue, yet they who 
indeed have the grace of God in their hearts, have 
better learned Christ. For it is against the formal 
nature of the grace and Spirit of Christ to suffer those 
in whom it dwelleth to give over themselves unto 
security and neglect of God ; for grace is a vital and 
active principle, and doth so work in us, as that it 
doth withal dispose and direct us unto working too. 
The property of grace is to fight against, and to kill sin, 
as being most extremely contrary unto it ; and there- 
fore it is a most irrational way of arguing to argue 
fifom the being of grace to the life of sin. How shall 
we that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? 
Bom. vi. 2. If we be dead to sin, thi& is argument 
enough in the apostle's judgment, why we should set 
our affections on things above. Col. iii. 2, 3. The 
grace of God doth not only serve to bring salvation, 
but to teach us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, 
and to live soberly, righteously, and godly, in thja 

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present world. Tit ii. 11, 12. He who hatfa decreed 
salvation as the end, hath decreed also all tha 
antecedent means unto that end to be used in a man* 
ner suitable to the condition of reasonable and volun* 
tary agents, unto whojB it belongs, having their mindii 
by grace enlightened, and their wDls by grape pre- 
vented, to co-operate with the same grace in the 
further pursuance of their salvation. And if at any 
time corruption should in God's children abuse his 
^race and efficacy Unto such presumptuous resolu* 
tions, they would quickly rue so unreasonable and 
carnal a way of arguing, by the woful sense of God's 
displeasure in withdrawing the comforts of his grac# 
from them, which would make them ever after take heed 
how they turned the grace of God into wantonness 
any more. Certainly, the more the servants of God 
are assured of his assistance, the more careful they 
are in using it unto his own service. Who more 
sure of the grace of God than the apostle Paul, who 
gloried of it as that which made him what he was ; '* By 
the grace of God I am that I am f who knew that 
God's grace was sufficient for him, and that nothing 
could separate him from the love of Christ ? who knew 
whom he had believed, and that the grace of the 
Lord was exceedingly abundant towards mm J and yet 
who more tender and fearful of sin ? Who more set 
against corruption, more abundant in duty, more 
pressing unto perfection, than he ? This is the nature 
of grace to animate and actuate the faculties of the 
soul in God's service, to ratify our covenants, and to 
enable us to perform them. 

Again, as it is singular comfort to the servants of 
God, that their own wills and purposes are in God's 
keeping, and so they cannot ruin themselves : so it 
is also, that all other men's wills qj;id resolutions are 

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In God's keeping too, so that they shall not be able 
to purpose or resolve on any evil against the church, 
without leave from him. So then when the rage and 
passions of men break out, tribe divided against tribe, 
brother against brother, father against child, head 
against body; when the band of unity, which was 
wont to knit together this flourishing kingdom, is 
broken like the prophet's staff, and therewithal the 
beauty of the nation miserably withered and decayed, 
(for diese two go still together. Beauty and Bands, 
Zech. xi. 10. 14.) we must look on all this as God's 
own work. It was he who sent an evil spirit between 
Abimelech and the men of Shechem, for the mutual 
punishment of the sins of one another. It was he 
who turned the hearts of the Egyptians to hate his 

iople, and to deal subtilly with them, Psa. cv. 25. 

e sent the Assyrian against his people, giving them 
a charge to take the spoil and the prey, and to tread 
them down like the mire of the streets, Isa. x. 6. 
He appomted the sword of the king of Babylon, by 
his overruling direction, to go against Juckdi, and 
not against the Ammonites, £zek. xxi. 19. He by 
the secret command of his providence marked some 
for safety, and gave commission to kill and slay others, 
Ezek. ix. 4, 5. It is he who giveth Jacob for a spoil, 
and Israel to the robbers, and poureth out upon them 
the strength of battle, Isa. xlii. 24, 25. If there be 
evil in a city, in a. kingdom, the Lord hath done it, 
Amos iii. 6. Isa. xlv. 7. This consideration is very 
useful both to humble us, when we consider that God 
hath a controversy against the land, and that it is he 
whom we have to do with in these sad commotions 
that are in the kingdoms ; and to quiet and silence 
us, that we may not dare to murmur at the course of 
his wise and righteous proceedings with us : and to 

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EA XIV. VERSE 8. 2^53 

direct us with prayer, faith, and patience to implore,' 
and in his good time to expect such an issue and close, 
as we are sure shall be for his own glory, and for the 
manifestation of his mercy towards his people, and 
his justice towards all that are implacable enemies 
unto Sion. 

In the troubles of the church, this is matter of sin- 
gular comfort, that however enemies may say, this 
and that we will do, hither and thither we will go, 
though they may combine together and be mutuadly 
confederate, Psa. Ixxxiii. 2. 5. and gird themselves, 
and take counsel, and speak the word, yet in all this 
God hath the casting voice. There is little heed to 
be given unto what Ephraim saith, except God say 
the same : without him whatsoever is counselled shall 
come to nought; whatsoever is decreed or spoken, 
shall not stand, Isa. viii. 9, 10. We have a lively 
description of the swift, confident, and furious march 
of the great host of Sennacherib towards Jerusalem, 
with the great terrors and consternation of the inha- 
bitants in every place where they came, weeping, 
flying, removing their habitations, Isa. x. 28 — 31. 
and when he is advanced unto Nob, from which place 
the city Jerusalem might be seen, he there shook his 
hand against Jerusalem, threatening what he would 
do unto it. And then when the waters were come to 
the very neck, and the Assyrian was in the height of 
pride and fury, God sent forth a prohibition against 
ail their resolutions, and that huge army which was, 
for pride and number, like the thick trees of Lebanon, 
were suddenly cut down by the mighty one, to wit, 
by the angel of the Lord, ver. 33, 34. compared with 
£zek. xxxi. 3. 10. Isa. xvii. 12 — 14. xxxvii. 36 

Our greatest business is to apply ourselves to God^ 

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who alone is the Lord that healeth us, who alone can 
Join the two sticks of Ephraim and Judah, and make 
'^them one, Exod. xv. 26. Ezek. xxxvii. 19. that he 
would still the raging of the sea, and command a calm 
again. He can say, Ephraim shall say thus and thus ; 
he hath the hearts of kings, and consequently of all 
other men in his hands, Prov. xxi. 1. and he can turn 
them as rivers of water, which way soever he will, as 
men hy art can derive waters and divert them firom 
one course to another (as they did in the siege of Ba- 
bylon) as historians tell us, whereunto the scripture 
seemeth to refer, Isa. xUii. 15, 16. xliv. 23. 28. Jer 
1. 23. li. 36. he can sway, alter, divert, overrule tlie 
purposes of men as it pleaseth him, reconciling lambs 
and lions unto one another, Isa. xi. 6. making Israel, 
Egypt, and Assyria agree together, Isa. xix. 24, 25. 
he can say to Balaam, Bless, when his mind was to 
curse. Josh. xxiv. 10. he can turn the wrath of Laban 
into a covenant of kindness with Jacob, Gen. xxxi. 
24. 44. and when Esau had advantage to execute his 
threats against his brother, he can then turn reso- 
lutions of cruelty into kisses. Gen. xxxiii. 4. and 
when Saul hath compassed David and his men round 
about ; and is most likely to take them, he can even 
then take him off by a necessary diversion, 1 Sam. 
xxiii. 26 — ^28. This is the comfort of God's people, 
that whatever men say, except God say it too, it shall 
^me all to nothing. He can restrain the wrath of 
men whensoever it pleaseth him, and he will do it 
when it hath proceeded so far as to glorify his 
power, and to make way for the more notable mani- 
festation of his goodness to his people, Psa. Ixxvi. 10 
And thus &r of God's answer to the covenant el 
Ephraim. They promised to renounce idols, and 
here God promiseth that thev should renounce them. 

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Now there are two things more to be observed 
from this expression, '* What have I to do any more 
with idols V 1. That in true conversion God maketh 
our special sin to be the object of our greatest de- 
testation, which point hath been opened before. 2. 
From those words " any more," that the nature of 
true repentance is to break sin off, as the expression 
is, Dan. iv. 27. and not to suffer a man to continue 
any longer in it, Rom. vi. 1, 2. It makes a man 
esteem &e time past sufficient to have wrought the 
will of the Gentiles^ 1 Pet iv. 2, 3. and is exceeding 
thrifty of the time to come, so to redeem it, as that 
God may have all; doth not linger, nor delay, nor 
make objections, or stick at inconveniences, or raise 
doubts whether it be seasonable to go out c^ Egypt 
and Sodom or not. It is not at the sluggard's lan- 
guage, '* A little more sleep, a little more slumber :" nor 
at Agripjpa's language, ** Almost thou persuadest me :" 
nor at Felix's language, " When I have a convenient 
season I will send for thee ;*' but immediately resolves 
with Paul not to confer with flesh and blood. Gal. i. 
16. and makes haste to fly fix)m the wrath to come, 
while it is yet to come, before it overtakes us, Luke 
iii. 7. Doth not make anxious or cavilling questions. 
What shall I do for the hundred talents ? How shall 
I maintain my life, my credit, my family ? how shall 
I keep my friends? how shall I preserve my in- 
terests, or support my estate ? but ventures the loss 
of all for the excellency of the knowledge of Christy 
Matt xiil 46. Phil. iii. 7, 8. is contented to part with 
a sky full of stars for one Sun of righteousness. The 
converts that return to Christ, come like dromedaries^ 
like doves, like ships ; no wings, no sails can carr) 
them fast enough from their former courses unto hini^ 
Isa. Ix. 6—9. Abraham is up betimes in the 

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motning, though it be to the sacrificing of a son, Gea 
xxii. 3. David makes haste and delays not when hi3 
is to keep God's commandments, Psa. cxix. 60. When 
Christ called his disciples, immediately tliey left their 
nets, their ship, tlieir father, and followed him. Matt, 
iv. 20. 22. This is the mighty power of repentance ; 
it doth not give dilatory answers, it doth not say to 
Christ, Go away now, and come to-morrow, then I 
will hear thee; I am not yet old enough, or rich 
enough, I have not yet obtained pleasure, or honour, 
or profit, or preferment enough by my sins ; but pre- 
sently it hears and entertains him. I have sinned 
enough already to condemn, to shame, to slay me ; 
I have spent time and strength enough already upon 
it, for such miserable wages as shame and death come 
to ; therefore I will never any more have to do with 
it. This is the sweet and most ingenious voice of 
Vepentance. " The thing which I see not, teach me, 
i&nd if I have done iniquity, I will do no more," 
Job xxxiv. 32. There is no sin more contrary 
to repentance than apostacy : for godly sorrow 
worketh repentance unto salvation, which the soul 
tiever finds reason to repent of, 2 Cor. vii. 10, 11. 
•* Let us therefore take heed of an evil heart of un- 
belief in departing from the living God," Heb. iii. 12. 
and of drawing back unto perdition, Heb. x. 39. 
>f dismissing our sins, as the Jews did their servants, 
Jer. xxxiv. 16 and calling them back again : for 
Satan usually returns with seven more wicked spirits, 
and maketh the last state of such a man worse than 
the first, Luke xi. 26. Ground which hath been a 
long time laid down from tillage unto pasture, if after- 
wards it be newly broken, will bring a much greater 
crop of corn, than it did formerly when it was a com- 
mon field, and so the heart which hath been taken 

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off from sin, if it retum to it again, will be much 
more fruitful than before. As lean bodies have many 
times the strongest appetite, so lust when it hath been 
kept lean, returns with greater hunger unto those 
objects which feed it. A stream which hath bc^n 
stopped, will run more violently bemg once opened 
again. Therefore in repentance we must shake 
hands with sin for ever, and resolve never more to 
tamper with it. 

Now in that the Lord saith, '* I have heard him and 
observed him ;" we learn hence, 

1. That God hearetli and answereth the prayers 
only of penitents. When a man resolves, 1 will have 
no more to do with sin, then, not till then, doth hip 
prayer find way to God. Impenitency clogs the 
wing of devotion, and stops its passage unto heaven. 
The person must be accepted before the petition; 
Christ Jesus is the priest that ofFereth, and the altar 
which sanctifieth all our services, 1 Pet ii. 5. Isa. 
Ivi. 7. And C!hrist will not be their Advocate in 
heaven, who refose to have him their King on earth. 
The scripture is in no ]>oint more express than in 
this. *' If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord 
will not hear me," Psa. Ixvi. 18. Prayer is a pouring 
out of the heart, if iniquity be harboured there, prayer 
is obstructed, and if it do break out, it will have the 
scent and savour of that iniquity upon it. " The sa^ 
crifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord," 
Prov. XV. 8. both because it is impure in itself, and 
because it hath no altar to sanctify it " He that 
tumeth away his ear from hearing the law, even his 
prayer shall be an abomination,'' Prov. xxviii. 9. 
Great reason that God should refuse to hear him who 
refuseth to hear God ; that he who will not let God 
beseech him, (as he doth in his word, 2 Cor. v. 20.) 

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should not be allowed to beseech God, Prov. i. 24. 29. 
Isa. i. 15. His ear is not heavy that it cannot hear, 
but iniquity separates between us and him, and hides 
his face that he will not hear, Isa. lix. 1, 2. £zek. 
viii. 18. God heareth not sinners, John ix. 31. the 
prevalency of prayer is this, that it is the prayer of a 
righteous man, Jam. v. 16. and indeed no wicked 
man can pray in the true and proper notion of prayer. 
It is true, there is a kind of prayer of nature, when 
men ciry in their distress unto the God and author of 
nature, for such good things as nature feeleth the 
want of, wliich God m the way of his general provi- 
dence and common mercies is sometimes pleased to 
answer suitably to the natural desires of those who 
ask them. But the prayer of faith (wliich is the true 
notion of prayer, Rom. x. 14. Jam. i. 15.) goes not 
to God as the author of nature, but as tlie God of 
grace, and tlie Father of Clirist, and doth not put up 
mere natural, but spiritual requests unto him as to a 
heavenly ' Father, which requests proceed from tlie 
Spirit of grace and supplication, teaching us to pray 
as we ought, Zech. xii. 10. Rom. viii. 26, 27. Gal. 
iv. 6. So that they who have not the spirit of Christ 
enabling them to cry, Abba, Father, are not able to 
pray a prayer of faith. Prayer hath two wills con- 
curring in it whenever it is right, our will put forth 
in desires, and God's will respected as the rule of 
those desires : for we are not allowed to desire what 
we will ourselves of God, but we must ask according 
to his will, 1 John v. 14. Now whensoever impe- 
nitent sinners pray for spiritual things, they do ever 
pray contrary to one of these two wills : when they 
pray for mercy and pardon, they pray against God's 
will, for that which God will not give : for mercy is 
proix>sed to, and j)rovided for, those that forsake sin. 

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Prov. xxviii. 13. he who chooseth to hold fast sin, 
doth by his own election forsake mercy: for the 
goodness of God leads to repentance, Rom. ii. 4. 
God's mercy is a holy mercy, it will pardon sin for- 
saken, but it will not protect sin retained. Again, 
when they pray for grace, they pray against their 
own will, for that which they themselves would not 
have. It is impossible that a man should formerly 
will the holding fast and continuing in sin, (as every 
impenitent man doth,) and with the same will should 
truly desire the receiving of grace, which is destruc- 
tive to the continuance of sin : and if a wicked man 
do truly will the grace of God when he prays for it, 
why doth he refuse the same grace when he heareth 
it in the ministry of the word offered unto him ? If 
God offer it, and he desire it, how comes it not to be 
received ? Certainly there is not any thing in the 
corrupt heart of man by nature which can willingly 
close with any sanctifying grace of the spirit of Christ. 
Self-denial is a concomitant in all acts of grace, and 
self-seeking in all acts of lust ; and therefore where 
there is nothing but lust, there can be no real volition 
of grace which is so contrary unto it. 

This teacheth us to have penitent resolutions, and 
spiritual aims in all our prayers, if we would have 
them prevail at the throne of grace. We are now 
suffering under heavy calamities : and very desirous 
we are that they should be removed ; we suffer, and 
languish, and fret, and pine away, and we complain 
every where of want, and violence. But who set 
themselves to cry mightily to God, and call upon their 
soul as the mariners upon Jonah, *^ O thou sleeper, 
what meanest thou, arise, call upon God V* Haply 
we go so far, we pray too, and yet receive no answer, 
because we ask amiss, Jam. iv. 1^3. we are troubled 

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that our lusts are abridged of their fuel, or that our 
nature is deprived of her necessaries, and for these 
things we pray. But till our troubles bring us to 
seek God more than ourselves, make us more sensible 
of his wrath than of our own wants ; more displeased 
at what offends him, than at what pincheth and oppress- 
eth ourselves ; we cannot promise ourselves an an- 
swer of peace. The mariners cried, and the tempest 
continued still ; Jonah was to be cast over ; so long as 
there was a fugitive from God in the ship, the storm 
would not cease. Never can we promise ourselves 
any comfortable fruit of our prayers, till the aim of 
them is spiritual, that God may be honoured, that his 
church may be cleansed and reformed, that our lives 
may be amended, that whatsoever forsakes God in us 
may be cast away. Till God's whole work be per- 
formed upon mount Sion and upon Jerusalem, we 
cannot promise ourselves that he will call in his com- 
mission and charge to take the spoil and the prey, 
Isa. X. 12. And therefore our greatest wisdom is to 
consider what God calls for, to make it our prayer 
and endeavour that his will and counsel may be ful- 
filled ; the more we make God our end, the sooner we 
shall recover our peace again. 

2. We learn that our performance of duty, doth 
depend much upon God's hearing and answering of 
prayer. Ephraim will have no more to do with idols, 
because God hath heard him. Prayer is the key of 
obedience, and the introduction unto duty. The 
principles of duties are, wisdom to know and order 
them ; will to desire and intend them ; strength to 
perform and persevere in the doing of them : and all 
these are the product of prayer. " If any want wis- 
dom, let him ask it of God," Jam. i. 5. so Solomon 
did» 1 Kings iii. 9. " And who am I, and what is 

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ON ROSEA XIV.- VBftSE b. 261 

my people," saith David, " that we should be aWe to 
oflfer so willingly? for all things come of thee," 
1 Chron. xxix. 14. and the apostle prays for the 
Ephesians, that God would grant them to be strength- 
ened with might by his Spirit in the inward man, 
Eph. iii. 16. the principles of duty are the fruits of 
prayer, and therefore the performance of duty doth 
much depend on the hearing and answering of prayer. 
3. We learn from God's observing, or having a 
careful and vigilant eye upon Ephrainv, that when we 
renounce all carnal and sinful confidence, and cast 
ourselves wholly upon God, engaging his eye of fa- 
vour and providence unto us, this will be a most suf- 
ficient protection against all the cruelties of men. 
One would think when we hear a sword threatened, 
dashing of infants, murder of women, the propliet 
should have called on them to take unto them weapons 
to make resistance, (and certainly the use of means 
in such cases is necessary ; the sword of the Lord 
doth not exclude the sword of Gideon.) One would 
think, " Take to you words," were but a poor prepa- 
ration against a destroying enemy: yet this is all 
that the prophet insists on ; when the Assyrian comes 
against you, do you take with you words ; your lips 
shall be able to defend more than his armies can 
annoy. Words uttered from a penitent heart, in time 
of trouble, unto God, are stronger than all the prepa- 
rations of flesh and blood, because the way that prayer 
and repentance go, that way God goeth too. Amalek 
fights, and Moses speaks unto God in the behalf of 
Israel, and the lifting up of his hands prevails more 
than the strength of Israel besides, Exod. xvii. II, 12. 
One man of God who knows how to manage the cause 
of Israel with him, is the chariots and horsemen of 
Israel, 2 Kings ii. 12. What huge armies did Asa 

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and Jehoshaphat yanquish by the power of prayer 
2 Chron. xiv. 11. xx. 22. 25. Till God forbid prayel 
as he did to Jeremiah, chap. vii. 16. xi. 14. and take 
off the hearts of his servants from crying unto him . 
iu behalf of a people, we have reason to hope that he 
will at last think thoughts of mercy towards them, 
Exod. xxxii. 10. 14. and in the mean time when they 
are reduced to the condition of fatherless children, he 
will be a guardian unto them ; his eye of providence 
and tuition will observe them, and take care of them ; 
He is the Father of the &therless, and Judge of the 
widow, even God in his holy habitation, Psa. 
Ixviii. 5. - 

Now in that he saith, *' I am a green fir-tree," it 
is a promise made in opposition to all the vain suc- 
cours which they relied on before, intimating that 
instead of them he would be their defence and shelter, 
that they should not need to hide themselves under 
such narrow refuges. Whatsoever human wisdom, 
wealth, power, or other outward means men have to 
defend themselves withal, yet they shall never find 
any true and solid protection but in and fix>m God 
after sound conversion unto him. Tlie fir-tree, Pliny 
saith, casteth not its leaves, and so yields a perpetual 
shade both in winter and in summer. To note that 
sound conversion yieldeth comfort in all conditions of 
life. ** Though the earth be removed, and the moun- 
tains carried into the midst of the sea,'* &c. Psa. xlvi. 
2, 3. Hab. iii. 17—19. •• However it be, God is 
good to Israel, and it shall go well with the righteous ; 
he will be for a sanctuary to his people, that they need 
not be afraid," Isa. viii. 12 — 14. If you would have 
your hearts above all the troubles of the world, get 
under this fir-tree, cast yourselves under this pro- 
tection, get into the chamber of God's providence and 

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ON HOSEA XIV.— vs%ss 8. 263 

promises, and then though the troubles of th^ world 
may strip you of all outward comforts, yet God will 
be all unto you. 

Lastly, in that he saith, ** From me is thy fruit 
found :" we learn, that though good works be ours 
when they are done by us, yet they come from God 
who enableth us to do them ; we bear them, but God 
worketh and produceth them in us : the duty is ours, 
but the efficacy and blessing is his. This falleth in 
with what hath been handled in the first doctrine ; 
and therefore I shall say no more of it. 

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XIV. 9. 

These words are a most pathetical close, and, as it 
were, a seal which the prophet settetli to all the doc- 
trine of his whole book, and to the course of his 
ministry; implying, 1. A strong asseveration of 
the truth of all those things which he had in the 
name of God delivered unto them. 2. An elegant 
and forcible excitation of the people unto a sad and 
serious pondering of them, laying to heart the sins 
therein charged, the duties therein required, the judg- 
ments therein threatened, the blessings therein prO' 
mised. And withal, 3. A tacit complaint of the 
paucity of those who were wise unto salvation, and 
of the desperate use which wicked men make of the 
word of God, and the ministry of his grace ; namely, 
to stumble at it, and to turn it unto themselves into 
an occasion of ruin. 

" Who is wise, and he shall understand V* &cr The 
interrogation is, 1. A secret exprobation of folly 
unto his hearers, or the greatest part of them : for so 
this kind of interrogation doth frequently in scripture 
intimate either a negation, or at least the rareness, 
and difficulty of the thing spoken of ; as, " Wlio hath 
known the mind of the Lord ?" 1 Cor. ii. 16. " Who 
shall lay any thing to the charge of God*s elect ?" 

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ON UOSEk XIV. VERSE 9. ^ 2(55 

Rom. viii. 83. These are negatives. " Who knoweth 
the power of thine anger?" Psa. xc. 11. *' Wlio 
amongst you will give ear to this V* Isa. xlii. 28. " Who 
hath believed our report ? or to whom is the arm ot 
tlie Lord revealed V* Isa. liii. 1. These are restric- 
tives. Who ? that is, few or none are such. 2. An 
earnest wish and desire of the prophet. O that 
men were wise to understand these things, and lay 
them to heart : as, " Who shall deliver me from this 
body of death V* that is, O that I were delivered • 
Rom. vii. 24. "Who will show us any good?" 
Psa. iv. 6. that is, O that any could do it. 3. A 
stri>ng affirmation or demonstration wherein true 
wisdom doth indeed consist, and what men that are 
truly wise will do, when the ways of God are by 
the ministry of his servants set forth before them ; 
namely, ponder and consider the great weiglit and 
consequence of them, as Jer. ix. 12, 13. ** Who is the 
wise man that may understand this V* namely, as it 
foUoweth, for what the land perisheth, and is burnt up 
like a wilderness that none passeth through ? And the 
Lord saith, " Because they have forsaken my law, 
which I set before them," &c. This is the character 
of a wise man, to resolve the judgments that are upon 
a people, into their proper original, and not to allege 
that there is no cause for them. 4. A vehement 
awakening and quickening of the people unto this 
duty of sad attendance on the words which he had 
spoken unto them, as £xod. xxxii. 26. " Who is on 
tne Lord's side ?" Let him come unto me. And 
2 Kings ix. 32. " Who is on my side?" Who? So 
it is, as if the prophet should have said, there are 
none of you who have been my hearers, but would 
willingly retain the reputation of wise and understand- 
ing men, and would esteem it a high indignity to be 

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recorded unto all ages for fools and madmen. Well, 
1 have preached amongst you many years together 
(sixty are the fewest that we can well compute, some / 
say seventy, others above eighty) but alas, what en- 
tertainment liath mine embassy received ? What ope- 
ration or success hath it had amongst you ? Are there 
not the calves still standing at Dan and Bethel ? Do 
not carnal policies prevail still against the express 
will of God ? O if there be any wise, any prudent 
men amongst you, (and O that all God's people were 
such,) let them, now at length in the close of my 
ministry towards them, show Uieir wisdom, by giving 
heed to what I liave declared from the Lord, that they 
may learn to walk in God's righteous ways, and may 
not stumble and peridi by them. 

Here are two words used to express the wisdom 
which God requireth in those who would fruitfully 
hear his word ; the one importing a mental knowledge 
of the things, and the other a practical and prudential 
judgment in pondering them, and in discerning the 
great moment and consequence of them unto our 
eternal weal or wo. So the apostle prays for the 
Coloesians, that they might be filled with the know- 
ledge of God's will in all wisdom and spiritual under- 
standing. Col. i. 9. In mere notional things which 
are only to be known for themselves, and are not 
further reducible unto use and practice, it is sufficient 
that a man knows them. But in such things the 
knowledge whereof is ever in order unto a further end, 
there is required besides the knowledge itself, a 
faculty of wisdom and judgment to apply and manage 
that knowledge respectively to that end, and for the 
advancement of it. Now* we know that theological 
learning is all of it practical, and hath an intrinsical 
respect and order uxUo worship and obedience ; there- 

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Jbre it is called the knowledge of the truth which 
JB after godliness. Tit. i. 1. *^ The fear of the Lord is 
the beginning of wisdom, and a good understanding 
have all they that do his commandments/' Psa. cxi. 
10. Keep his judgments and do them, for this is 
your wisdom and understanding, Deut iv. 6. there- 
fore, besides the bare knowledge of the truth, there is 
required wisdom, and spiritual understanding to 
divect that knowledge unto those holy uses and saving 
ends for which it was intended. 

The doubling of the sentence, it is the augmenting 
of the sense, to note, that it is the supreme and most 
excellent act of wisdom and prudence so to know the 
word and ways of God, as with a practical judgment 
to ponder them in order to salvation. 

By the ways of the Lord we are to understand : 

1. The ways of his judgments, and of his wonderful 
providence towards men : which however to the proud 
and contentious spirit of the wicked they may seem 
perverse and inordinate, and are to the eye of all 
men unsearchable ; are yet by spiritual wisdom ac- 
knowledged to be most righteous and holy, to have 
no crookedness or disorder in them, but to be carried 
on in an even and straight way unto the ends whereunto 
his holy counsel doth direct them. ** His works aie 
perfect, and all his ways are judgment," Deut. xxxii. 4. 
When Jeremiah had a mind to plead with the Lord 
concerning his judgments, yet he promiseth this as a 
matter unquestionable, that God was righteous in 
them all, Jer. xii. 1. 

2. The ways of his will, word, and worship ; so 
the word is often taken in scripture to signify the 
doctrine which men teach, as Matt. xxii. 16. Acts 
xiii. 10. xviii. 25. xxii. 4. and damnable heresies are 
called pernicious waya, in opposition to the way of 

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truth, 2 Pet. ii. 2, and the rites or rules of corrupt 
worship are called by the prophet the way of Beer- 
sheba, Amos viii. 14. And these ways of God are 
likewise very straight, which carry men on in a sure 
line unto a happy end, Psa. xix. 8. whereas wicked 
ways have crookedness and perverseness in them, 
Psa. cxxv. 5. and this way seems here chiefly to be 
meant, because it follows, *^The just will walk in 
them," that is, they will so ponder and judge of the 
righteous ways of God in his word, as to make choice 
of them for their way of happiness wherein they 
intend to walk, as the psalmist speaks, *' I have 
chosen the way of thy truth," Psa. cxix. 30. xxv. 12. 
Whereas wicked men being oifended at the purity of 
divine truth, do stumble and fall into perdition, as 
the Chaldee paraphrast expresseth this place. 

The words are a powerful and pathetical stirring 
up of the people of Israel unto the consideration and 
obedience of the doctrines taught by the prophet in 
his whole prophecy. The arguments wliich he useth, 
are drawn, 1. From the character of the persons : 
" Who is wise, he shall understand," &c. 2. From 
the nature of the doctrine taught: " For the ways 
of the Lord are right." 3. From a double use and 
fruit of it made by different sorts of men. To 
the just, it is a way of happiness, they will walk ; to 
the wicked, it is an occasion of stumbling, they will 
fall therein. 

Touching the persons, we observe two things ; the 
one intimated, tneir paucity ; the other expressed, 
their prudence. 

From the former consideration we may note — ^Tiiat 
there are few men who are wise unto salvation, and 
who do seriously attend and manage the ministry of 
the word unto that end. If there be any kind of 

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accidental enticement to allure the fancies, or curi- 
osities, or customary attendances of men on the 
ordinances; elegancy in the speaker, novelty and 
quaintness in the matter, credit or advantage in the 
duty ; upon such inducements many will wait on the 
word ; some to hear a sweet song, Ezek. xxxiii. 32. 
others to hear some new doctrine. Acts xvii. 19. some 
for loaves; to promote their secular advantages, 
John vi. 26. having one and the self-same reason of 
following Christ, which the Gadarenes had when they 
entreated him to depart from their coasts. But very 
few there are who do it on its own account, and with 
respect to the primary use and intention of it. Our 
prophet seems to do as the philosopher did, who 
lighted a candle at noon to find out a wise man 
indeed, to run to and fro through the streets, and 
in the broad places, to find a man that seeketh the 
truth, as the Lord commanded the prophet Jeremiah, 
Jer. V. 1. How doth the most elegant of all the 
prophets complain, " Who hath believed our report ?* 
Isa. liii. 1. xUx. 4. How doth the most learned of 
the apostles complain, tfakt the preaching of the 
gospel was esteemed foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 23. Noah 
was a preacher of righteousness to a whole world of men, 
and yet but eight persons were saved from the flood, 
and some of uiem rather for the family's sake than 
their own, 1 Pet. iii. 20. Paul preached to a whole 
academy at Athens, and but a very few were con- 
verted, Acts xvii. 34. some disputed, and others 
mocked, but few believed the things which they were 
not able to gainsay. Hezekiah sent messengers into 
all Israel to invite them unto the true worship of God 
at Jerusalem, but they were mocked and laughed to 
scorn, and a remnant only humbled themselves, and 
came to Jerusalem, 2 Chron. xxx. 10, 11. (whereunto 

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the prophet seemeth to allude, Isa. xvii. 6. xxiv. 13.) 
Though a gun he discharged at a whole flight of 
birds, there are but few killed. Though the net be 
spread over the whole pond, but few fishes are taken ; 
many thrust their heads into the mud, and the net 
passeth over them ; and so most hearers do busy 
their heads with their own sensual or worldly thoughts, 
and so escape the power of the word. In the richest 
mine that is, there is much more earth and dross 
digged out than pure metal. Christ's flock in every 
place is but a little flock, Luke xii. 32. Few chosen. 
Matt. XX. 16. few saved, Luke xiii. 23. few that find 
the narrow way, which leadeth unto life. Matt. viL 
13, 14. The basest creatures are usually the most 
numerous, as flies and vermin ; those that are more 
noble, are more rare too. The people of the God of 
Abraham are in the scripture style, princes and nobles, 
Psa. xlvii. 9^ Acts xvii. 11. 1 Pet. ii. 9. and how 
few are such kind of men in comparison with the 
vulgar sort ? They are indeed many in themselves, 
Heb. ii. 10. Rev. vii. 9. but very few and thin, being 
compared with the rest of the world. 

We must therefore learn not to be offended or dis- 
couraged by the paucity of sincere professors, no 
more than we are in a civil state by the paucity of 
wise counsellors and politicians, in comparison with 
the common people. It is no strange thing at all in 
any societies of men to see the weaker part more than 
the wiser. If but few attend the right ways of the 
Lord, and walk in them, remember it is a work of 
wisdom, and such wisdom as cometh from above, and 
hath no seeds or principles in corrupt nature out of 
which it might be drawn ; nay, against which all the 
vigour of carnal reason doth exalt itself; so that the 
more. natural wisdom men have the more in danger 

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they are to despise and undervalue the ways of God, 
as being better able to reason and to cavil against 
them, Matt. xi. 25. Acts iv. 11. John vii. 48. 1 Cor. 
i. 28. ii. 8. 2 Cor. x. 5, 6. Therefore, 1. In the 
ministry of the word we must continue our labpur. 
though Israel be not gathered, Isa. xlix. 4, 5. We 
must stretch out our hands, though it be to a dis- 
obedient and gainsaying people, Isa. xlix. 4, 5. whe- 
ther they will hear, or whether they will forbear, we 
must speak unto them, be they ever so rebellious, 
Ezek. ii. 7. and the reason is, because the word is 
never in vain, but it doth ever prosper in the work 
whereunto God sends it, Isa. Iv. 11. If men be righ- 
teous, they walk ; if wicked, they stumble, and in both 
there is a sweet savour unto God, 2 Cor. ii. 15. 
God's work is accomplished, his glory promoted, the 
power of his gospel commended in the one and the 
other, as the virtue of a sweet savour is seen as well 
by the antipathy which one creature hath unto it, as 
by the refreshment which another receiveth from it : 
the strength of a rock, as by holding up the house 
that is built upon it, so by breaking in pieces the ship 
that doth dash against it ; the force of the fire, as well 
by consuming the dross, as by refining the gold : the 
power of water, as well in sinking the ship that leaks, 
as in supporting the ship that is sound. The pillar of 
the cloud was as wonderful in the darkness which it 
cast upon the Egyptians, as in the light which it gave 
unto the Israelites, Exod. xiv. 20. The power of 
the angel as great in striking terror into the soldiers, 
as in speaking comfort unto the woman. Matt, xxviii. 
4, 5. 2. In attendance on the word ; we must 
resolve rather to walk with the wise, though few, 
than to follow a multitude to do evil, and to stumble 
witli the wicked, though they be many : rather enter 

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the ark with a few, than venture the flood witli a 
world of sinners: rather go three or four out of 
Sodom, than he humt for company. We must not 
affect a humorous singularity in differing unneces* 
sarily from good men, heing one for Paul against 
Apollos, another for Apollos against Cephas ; but we 
must ever affect a holy and pious singularity in 
walking contrary unto evil men, in shining as lights 
in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, Phil, 
ii. 15. For the righteous is more excellent than his 
neighbour, Prov. xii. 26. Though there be but few 
in the way, there will be many in the end of the 
journey. As the tribes and families went up divided 
towards Jerusalem, but when they were come thither 
they appeared every one of them before God in Sion, 
Psa. viii. 4. 7. 

The prophet calleth upon his hearers to attend unto 
his doctrine by this argument, because it will be an 
evidence of their prudence and wisdom ; we learn. 
That true and solid wisdom doth draw the heart to 
know aright, namely, to consider and ponder the 
judgments, blessings, ways, and word of God in order 
to the chief ends, and accordingly to direct all their 
conversation: for in God's account that knowledge 
which doth not edify, is no knowledge at all, 1 Cor. 
viii. 2. None are his wise men who are not wise 
unto salvation, 2 Tim. iii. 15. who do not draw their 
wisdom from his word, and irom his commandments, 
Psa. xix. 7. cxix. 98, 99. Jer. viii. 9. 

There is a twofold wisdom : wisdom in some par- 
ticulars, as we esteem every man who is excellent in 
his profession, to be a wise man, so far as concerns 
the managing of that profession : as when a man 
knows all the necessary principles and maxims of 
tliat way wherein he is, the right ends whereof, an<i 

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the proper conclusions deducible from those prin- 
ciples, and tending unto those ends. And next, 
wisdom in general and in perfection, which is of those 
principles, ends, and conclusions which are universally 
and most transcendently necessary unto a man's chief 
and most general good: and this the philosopher 
calleth the knowledge of the most excellent and 
honourable things, or of the last end, and chief good 
of man. Now the end by how much the more su- 
preme, perpetual, and ultimate it is, by so much the 
more it hath of excellency and goodness in it, as 
bearing thereby most exact proportion and conve- 
niency to the soul of man ; for the soul being im- 
mortal itself can have no final satisfaction from any 
good which is mortal and perishable-: and being 
withal so large and unlimited, as that the reasonings 
and desires thereof extend unto the whole latitude of 
goodness, being not restrained unto this or that kind, 
but capable of desiring and judging of all the different 
degrees of goodness which are in all the whole variety 
of things, it can therefore never finally acquiesce in 
any but the most universal and comprehensive good- 
ness, in the nearer or more remote participation 
whereof consisteth the different goodness of all other 

This supreme and absolute goodness can indeed be 
but one, sJl other things being good by the partici- 
pation of that. There is none good but one, that is 
God, Matt. xix. 17. But because there are two sorts 
of men in the world, righteous and wicked, the seed of 
the woman, and the seed of the serpent : therefore, 
consequently, there are two sorts of ends, which these 
men do differently pursue. The end of wicked men 
is a happiness which they out of their own corrupt 
judgmentB do shape themselves, and unto which they 

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do finally carry all the motions of their souls, called 
in scripture, " the pleasures of sin," and '* the wages 
of iniquity," Heb. xi. 25. 2 Pet. il. 15. that thing 
whatsoever it is, for obtaining whereof men do direct 
all their other endeavours, as profit, pleasure, and 
honour or power, and there are mediums exactly 
proportionable unto these ends ; namely, *' the lust of 
the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life," 
1 John ii. 16. And there is a wisdom consonant 
unto these ends and means, and fit to direct and ma- 
nage these lusts, unto the attaining of those ends ; 
which therefore the apostle calleth tne wisdom of the 
flesh or corrupt nature, Rom. viii. 7. and St James, 
a wisdom eartnly, sensual, and devilish, James iii. 15. 
earthly, managing the lusts of the eyes unto the ends 
of gain ; sensual, managing the lusts of the flesh unto 
ends of pleasure ; and devilish, managing the pride 
of life unto ends of power. But such wisdom as 
this, God esteems very foolishness ; My people are 
foolish, sottish children, they have no understanding ; 
Why ? ** Tliey are wise to do evil, but to do good 
they have no knowledge," Jer. iv. 22, Wisdom is 
only unto tliat which is good ; he is the wisest man 
who is simple and ignorant in the trade of evil, Rom. 
xvi. 19. ** If any man amongst you seemetli to be 
wise in this world, let him become a fool that he may 
be wise," 1 Cor. iii. 18. 

On the other side, the true and ultimate end of a 
righteous man, is Almighty God as most glorious in 
himself, as most good unto us ; or the seeking of his 
glory, that he may be honoured by us : and of our 
own salvation ; that we may be glorified by him. 
The fruition of him as the highest and first, and the 
greatest and last, the chiefest object for the mind to 
rest in by knowledge, and the heart by love: this 

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must needs be the best of all ends, both iii regard ol 
the excellency of it, as being infinitely and most ab> 
solutely good ; and in regaiS of eternity, so that the 
soul having once the possession of it, can never be to 
seek of that happiness which floweth from it, John 
vi. 27. The proper means for the obtaining of 
this end, is the knowledge of God in Christ, as in his 
word he hath revealed himself, to be known, wor- 
shipped, and obeyed ; for there only doth he teach us 
the way unto himself: and true wisdom is the pur- 
suing of this means in order unto that end. For 
though many approaches may be made towards God 
by the search and contemplation of the creature, yet 
in his word he hath showed us a more lull and ex- 
cellent way, which only can make us wise unto sal- 
vation through &ith in Christ Jesus, 2 Tim. iii. 15. 
Prov. ix. 10. EccL xii. 12, 13. Jer. ix. 23, 24. 

All the thoughts and wisdom of men are spent upon 
one of these two heads, either the obtaining of the 
good which we want, or the avoiding and declining 
the evil which we fear. And by how much the more 
excellent and difficult the good is which we want, 
and by how much the more pernicious and imminent 
the evil is which we fear, by so much greater is the 
wisdom which in both these procures the end .at which 
we aim. Now then what are the most excellent 
good things which we want ? Food is common to u» 
with other creatures; raiment, houses, lands, pos« 
sessions, common to us with the worst men : take the 
most admired perfections which are not heavenly, and 
we may find very wicked men excel in them. All 
men will confess the soul to be more excellent than 
the body, and therefore the good of that to be more 
excellent than of the other : and the chief good of it 
to be that which doth most advance it towards the 

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Fountain of goodness, where is fulness of perfection, 
and perpetuity of fruition, Tlie excellency of every 
thing standeth in two things. The perfection of 
beauty wherein it was made, and the perfection of 
use for which it was made. The beauty of man, 
especially in his soul, consists in this, that he was 
made like to God, after his image, Gen. i. 26, 27. 
and his end and use in this, that he was made for 
God, first to serve him, and after to enjoy him ; for 
the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself, 
Psa. iv. 3. " This people have I formed for myself, 
tiiey shall show forth my praise," Isa. xliii. 21. 
Therefore to recover the image of God, which is in 
knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness, Col. iii. 
10. Eph. iv. 24. to work to the service and glory of 
God, John xv. 8. to aspire and to enjoy the posses- 
sion and fruition of God, Exod. xxxiii. 18. Phil. i. 23. 
must needs be man's greatest good ; and by conse- 
quence, to attend on the means hereof, must needs be 
his greatest wisdom. 

What is the most pernicious and destructive evil 
which a man is in danger of? not the loss of any 
outward good things whatsoever, for they are all in 
their nature perishable ; we enjoy them upon these 
conditions to part with them again ; no wisdom can 
keep them ; " Meat for the belly, and the belly for 
meats, but God shall destroy both it and them," 1 Cor. 
vi. 13. Not the suflFering of any outward troubles^ 
which the best of men have suffered, and triumphed 
over ; but the greatest loss is, the loss of a precious 
soul, which is more worth than all the world. Matt, 
xvi. 26. and the greatest suffering is the wrath of 
God upon the conscience, Psa. xc. 11. Isa. xxxiii. 14. 
Heb. X. 31. Matt. x. 28. Therefore to avoid this 
danger, and to snatch this darling from the paw of 

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the lion, is of all others the greatest wisdom. It is 
wisdom to deliver a city, Ecc. ix. 1 5. much more to 
deliver a soul, Prov. xi. 30. Angelical, seraphical 
knowledge without this is all worth nothing, 1 Cor. 
xiii. 1, 2. 

Therefore we should learn to show ourselves wise 
indeed by attendance on God's word. If the most 
glorious creatures for wisdom and knowledge that 
ever God made, the blessed angels, were employed in 
publishing the law of God, Acts vii. 53. Gal. iii. 19. 
and did with great admiration look into the mysteries 
of the gospel, and stoop down with their faces to- 
wards the mercy-seat, 1 Pet. i. 12. Eph. iii. 10 
Exod. xxxvii. 9. it cannot but be also our chief wis- 
dom to hide the word in our hearts, and to make it 
our companion and counsellor, as David did, Psa. 
exix. 24. We esteem him the wisest man who fol- 
loweth the best and safest counsel, and that which 
will most preserve and promote his interest, bin 
honour, and his conscience. Herein was Reho- 
boam's weakness, that by passionate and rash counsels 
he suffered his honour to be stained, his interest to 
be weakened, and his conscience to be defiled with 
resolutions of violence and injustice Now there is 
no counsel equal to that of God's word. It enlight- 
eneth the eyes, it maketh wise the simple, Psa. xix. 
7, 8. It is able to make a man wise for himself, and 
unto salvation, which no other counsel can do, 2 Tim. 
iii. 15, 16. There is no case that can be put, though 
of ever so great intricacy and perplexity, no doubt 
so difficult, no temptation so knotty and involved, no 
condition whereinto a man can be brought so despe- 
rate, no employment so dark and uncouth, no service 
Ao arduous, or full of discouragements, in all which, so 
far as respecteth conscience and salvation, there are 

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not most clear and satisfactory expedients to be drawn 
out of Grod's word, if a man have his judgment and 
senses after a spiritual manner exercised in the search- 
ing of it. That we are so often at a stand how to 
state such a question, how to satisfy such a scruple, 
how to clear and expedite such a difficulty, how to 
repel such a temptation, how to manage such an 
action, how to order our ways with an even and com- 
posed spirit in the various conditions whereinto we 
are cast in this world, doth not arise from any defect 
in the word of God, which is perfect and able to 
furnish us unto every good work, but only from our 
own ignorance and unacquaintance with it, who know 
not how to draw the general rule, and to apply it to 
our own particular cases. And this cannot but be 
matter of great humiliation unto us in these sad and 
distracted times, when besides our civil breaches, 
which threaten desolation to the state, there should 
be so many and wide divisions in the church ; that 
after so long enjoyment of the word of God, the 
scripture should be to so many men as a sealed book, 
and they, like the Egyptians, have the dark side of 
this glorious pillar towards them still, that men should 
be tossed to and fro like children, and carried about 
with every wind of doctrine, and suffer themselves to 
be bewitched, devoured, brought into bondage, spoiled, 
led away captive, unskilful in the word of righteous- 
ness, unable to discern good and evil, to prove and 
try the spirits whether they be of God, always learn- 
ing, and never able to come to the knowledge of the 
truth ; and this not only in matters problematical, or 
circumstantial, wherein learned and godly men may 
differ one from another, and yet still the peace and 
unity of the church be preserved, (for things of this 
.nature ought not to be occasions of schism, or 

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secessions from one another,) but in matters which 
concern life and godliness. These things, I say, 
cannot but be matter of humiliation unto all that fear 
God, and love the prosperity of Sion, and occasions 
the more earnestly to excite them unto this wisdom in 
&e text, to hear what God the Lord says, and to lay 
his righteous ways so to heart, as to walk stedfastly 
in them, and never to stumble at them, or Ml from 

Now there are two things which, I take it, the pro- 
phet in this close of his prophecy seems principally to 
aim at : namely, the judgnaents, and the blessings of 
God. His righteous ways in his threatenings against 
impenitent, and in his promises made unto penitent 
sinners. These are the things which wise and prudent 
men will consider in times of trouble. 

For judgments ; there is a twofold knowledge of 
them : the one natural, by sense ; the other spiritual by 
faith. By the former way wicked men do abundantly 
know the afflictions which they suffer, even unto 
vexation and anguish of spirit. They fret themselves, 
Isa. viii. 21. They are gray-headed with very trouble 
and sorrow, Hos. vii. 9. They gnaw their tongues 
for pain, Rev. xvi. 10. They pine away in Qieir 
iniquities, Lev. xxvi. 39. They are mad in their 
calamities, have trembling hearts, failing of eyes, and 
sorrow of mind, &c. Deut. xxviii. 34. 65. and yet for 
all this they are said in the scripture, when they bum, 
when they consume, when they are devoured, not to 
know any oi this, or to lay it to heart, Isa. xlii. 25. 
Hos. vii. 9. Jer. xii. 11. and the reason is, because 
they know it not by faith, nor in a spiritual manner 
in order unto God. They did not see his name, nor 
hear his rod, nor consider his hand and counsel in it, 
nor measure his judgments by his word, nor look on 
2 a2 

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them, as the fruits of sin, leading to repentance, and 
teaching righteousness, nor as the arguments of God's 
displeasure, humbling us under his holy hand, and 
guiding us to seek his face, and to recover our peace 
with him. This is the spiritual and prudent way of 
knowing judgments, Mic. vi. 9. Isa. xxvi. 8, 9. 
xxvii. 9. Lev. xxvi. 40 — 42. True wisdom looks on 
things in their causes : resolves judgments into the 
causes of them, our sins to be bewailed, God's wrath 
to be averted ; makes this observation upon them — 
Now [ find by experience, that God is a God of 
truth; often have I heard judgments threatened 
against sin, and now I see that God's threatenings 
are not empty wind, but that all his words have truth 
and substance in them. The first part of wisdom is, 
to see judgments in the word before they come, and 
to hide from them: for as faith in regard of pro- 
mises is the substance of things hoped for, and seeth 
a being in them while they are yet but to come ; so 
is it'in regard of threatenings the substance of things 
feared, and can see a being in judgments before they 
are felt. The next part of wisdom is, to see God in 
judgments, in the rods when they u:e actually come, 
and to know them in order unto him. And that 
knowledge stands in two things ; first to resolve 
them unto him as their author, for nothing can hurt 
us without a commission from God, John xix. 11. 
Satan spoils Job of his children, the Sabeans and 
Chaldeans of his goods ; but he looks above all these 
unto God, acknowledging his goodness in giving, his 
power in taking away, and blesseth his name, Job 
i. 21. Joseph looks from the malice of his brethren, 
unto the providence of God ; " He sent me before you 
to preserve life, Gen. xlv. 5. If the whale swallow 
Jonah, God prepares him, Jonah i. 17. and if he 

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vomit him up again, God speaks unto him, chap. iL 
10. 2. To direct him unto them as the end, to 
be taught by them to seek the Lord, and wait on him 
in the way of his judgments, to be more penitent for 
sin, more fearful, and watchfid against it, to study and 
practise the skill of suffering as christians, accoirding 
to the will of God, that he may be glorified, Psa. 
xciv. 12. cxix. 67. 71. Zech. xiii. 9. Isa. xxvi. 9. 
Heb. xii. 11. Deut. viii. 16. 1 Pet. iv. 16. 19. 

So likewise for blessings ; there is a double know- 
ledge of them, one sensual by the flesh, the other 
spiritual in the conscience. The former is but a 
brutish and Epicurean feeding on them without fear, 
as Israel Apon quails in the wilderness, as swine 
which feed on the fruit that falls down, but never look 
up to the tree whereon it grew ; to use blessings as 
Adam did the forbidden fruit, being drawn by the 
beauty of them to forget God ; as our prophet com- 
plains, Hos. xiii. 6. But spiritual knowledge of 
blessings, is to taste and see the goodness of the Lord 
in them ; to look up to him as tlie author of them, 
acknowledging that it is he who giveth us power to get 
wealth, and any other good thing, Deut. viii. 17, 18. 
Psa. cxxvii. 1. Prov. x. 22. and to be drawn by them 
unto him as their end, to the adoring of his bounty, 
to the admiration of his goodness, to more cheer^l- 
ness and stronger engagements unto his service ; to 
say with Jacob, He gives me bread to eat, and rai- 
ment to put on, therefore he shall be my God, Gen. 
xxviii. 20. He giveth me all things richly to enjoy ; 
therefore I will trust in him, 1 Tim. vi. 17. Cata- 
logues of mercy should beget resolutions of obedience. 
Josh. xxiv. 2. 14. 

Again, we have here a singular commendation of 
the doctrine which the prophet had delivered unto the 
2 a3 

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people of God ; namely, that it was altogether right, 
and the way which God required them to walk in, 
whatever judgment carnal and corrupt minds might 
pass upon it. Now the doctrine of God's judgments, 
precepts, and promises, are said to be right divers 

1. In regard of their equity and reasonableness, 
there is nothing more profoundly and exactly rational 
than true religion ; and therefore conversion is called 
by our Saviour conviction. There is a power in the 
word of God to stop the mouths and dispel the cavil- 
lations of all contradictors ; so that they shall not be 
able to resist, or speak against the truth that is 
taught, John xvi. 8. Tit. i. 9, 10. Acts vl. 10. Matt, 
xxii. 34. And the apostle calleth his ministry a 
declaration and a manifestation of the truth of God 
unto the consciences of men, 1 Cor. ii. 4. 2 Cor. iv. 2. 
and ApoUos is said mightily to have convinced the 
Jews, showing or demonstrating by the scripture that 
Jesus was CWst, Acts xviii. 28. therefore the apostle 
calleth the devoting of ourselves unto God, a reason* 
able service, Rom. xii. 1. and those that obey not the 
word, are called unreasonable and absurd men, that 
have not wisdom to discern the truth and equity of 
the ways of God, 2 Thess. iii. 2. What can be more 
reasonable, than that he who made all things for him- 
self, should be served by the creatures which he 
made ? That we should live unto him who gave us 
our being ? That the Supreme should be obeyed, the 
infallible truth believed ? That he who can destroy, 
should be feared ? That he who doth reward should be 
loved and trusted in ? That absolute justice should 
vindicate itself against presumptuous disobedience; 
and absolute goodness, extend mercy unto whom it 
pleaseth ? It is no marvel that the Holy Spirit doth 

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brand wicked men, throughout the scripture, with the 
disgraceful title of fools, because they reject that 
which is the supreme rule of wisdom, and hath the 
greatest perfection and exactness of reason in it, 
Jer. viiL 9. 

2. In regard of their consonancy and harmony 
within themselves, as that which is right and straight 
hatli all its parts equal and agreeing one unto another : 
so all the parts of divine doctrine are exactly suitable 
and conformable to each other. The promises of 
God are not yea and nay, but yea and amen, 2 Cor. 
i. 19, 20. However, there may be seeming repug- 
nances to a carnal and captious eye, (which may seem 
of purpose allowed for the exercise of our diligence 
in searching, and humility in adoring the profound- 
ness and perfection of the word,) yet the scriptures 
have no obliquity in them at all, but all the parts 
thereof do most intimately consent with one another, 
as being written by the Spirit of truth who cannot lie 
nor deceive, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and 
for ever. 

3. In regard of their directness unto that end for 
which they were revealed unto men, being the strait 
road unto eternal life, able to build us up, and to give 
us an inheritance. Acts xx. 32. In which respect the 
word is called the word of life. Acts. v. 20. And the 
gospel of salvation, £ph. i. 13. yea, salvation itself, 
John iv. 22. xii. 50. Acts xxviii. 28. as being the 
way to it, and the instrument of it, 2 Tim. iii. 15 — 17. 
James i. 21. 

4. In regard of their conformity to the holy nature 
and will of God, which is the original rule of all rec- 
titude and perfection. Law is nothing but the will 
of the lawgiver, revealed with . an intention to bind 
those who are under it, and for the ordering of whom 

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it was revealed. That will being in God most holy 
and perfect, the law or word, which is but the mani- 
festation of it, must needs be holy and perfect too ; 
therefore it is called the acceptable and perfect will of 
God, Rom. xii. 2. Col. i. 1. It is also called a word 
of truth, importing a conformity between the mind 
and will of the speaker, and the word which is spoken 
by him ; in which respect it is said to be holy, just, 
and good, Rom. vii. 12. 

5. In regard of the smoothness, plainness, and 
perspicuity of them, in the which men may walk 
surely, easily, without danger of wandering, stumbling, 
or miscarriage ; as a man is not in danger of missing 
a way, if it be straight and direct, without any turnings ; 
and in no great danger of falling in it, if it be plain 
and smooth, and no stumbling block left in it. Now 
such is the word of God to those who make it their 
way, a straight way, which looketh directly forward, 
Psa. V. 8. Heb. xii. 13. An even and smooth way, 
which hath no offence or stumbling block in it, Psa. 
xxvi. 12. cxix. 165. It is true, there are hard things 
to exercise the study and diligence, the faith and 
prayers of the profoundest scholars ; waters wherein 
an elephant may swim ; but yet as nature hath made 
things of greatest necessity to be most obvious and 
common, as air, water, bread, and the like ; whereas 
things of greater rarity, as gems and jewels, are 
matters of honour and ornaments, not of daily use : 
so the wisdom of God hath so tempered the scriptures, 
as that from thence the wisest Solomon may fetch 
jewels for ornament, and the poorest Lazarus bread 
for life ; but these things which are of common ne- 
cessity, as matters of faith, love, worship, obedience, 
which are universally requisite unto the common sal 
vatjon, (as the apostle expresseth it, Jude, ver. 3. 

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Tit. i. 4.) are so perspicuously set down in the holy 
scriptures, that every one who hath the Spirit of 
Christ, hath therewithal a judgment to discern so 
much of God*s will as shall suffice to make him be- 
lieve in Christ for righteousness, and by worship and 
obedience to serve him unto salvation. The way of 
holiness is so plain, that simple men axe made wise 
enough to find it out, and way-faring men, though 
fools, do not err therein, Psa. xix. 7. Isa. xxxii. 4. 
XXXV. 8. Matt. xi. 25. 

From all which we learn : 

(1.) To take heed of picking quarrels at any word 
of God, or presuming to pass any bold and carnal 
censure of ours upon his righteous ways. When God 
doth set his word in the power and workings of it 
upon the spirit of any wicked man, making his con-» 
science to hear it as the voice of God, it usually 
worketh one of these two effects : either it subdues 
the soul to the obedience of it by convincing, judgT 
ing, and manifesting the secrets of his heart, so that 
he falleth down on his face and worshippeth God, 
1 Cor. xiv. 25^ or else it doth by accident excite stnd 
enrage the natural love which is in every man to his 
lusts, stirring up all the proud arts and reasonings 
which the forge of a corrupt heart can shape in de- 
fence of those lusts against the sword of the Spirit 
which would cut them off; as that which liindereth 
the course of a river, doth accidentally enrage the 
force of it, and cause it to swell and overrun the 
banks ; and from hence ariseth gain-saying and con^ 
tradiction against the word of grace, and the ways of 
God as unequal and unreasonable, too strict, too 
severe, too hard to be observed, Ezek. xviii. 25. 
snuffing at it, Mai. i. 13. gathering odious conse- 
quences from it, Rom. iii. 8. replying against it, 

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Rom. ix. 19, 20. casting reproaches upon it, Jer. xx. 
8, 9. enviously swelling at it, Acts xiii. 45. There 
are few sins more dangerous than this of picking 
quarrels at God's word, and taking up weapons against 
k. It wiil prove a burdensome stone to those who 
burden themselves with it, Zech. xii. 3. Matt. xxi. 44. 
Therefore whenever our crooked and corrupt reason 
ioth ofifer to except against the ways of God as un- 
equal, we must presently conclude as God doth, Ezek. 
xviii. 25. that the inequality is in uSi and not in 
them. When the lame man stumbleth in a plain 
path, the fault is not in the way, but in the foot : nor 
18 the potion but the palate to blame when a feverish 
distemper maketh that seem bitter, which indeed was 
sweet. He that removeth in a boat from the shore, 
in the judgment of sense seeth the houses or trees on 
the shore to totter and move, whereas the motion is 
in the boat, and not in them. Unclean and corrupt 
hearts have unclean notions of the purest things, and 
conceive of God as if he were such a one as them- 
selves, Psa. 1. 21. 

(2.) It should teach us to come to God's word 
always as to a rule, by which we are to measure our- 
selves, and take heed of wresting that to the corrupt 
fancies of our own evil hearts ; as the apostle saith 
some men do to their own destruction, 2 Pet. iii. 16. 
Acts xiii. 10. Every wicked man doth, though not 
formally and explicitly, yet really and in truth, set up 
his own will against God's, resolving to do what 
pleaseth himself, and not that which may please God ; 
and consequently foUoweth that reason and counsel 
which waits upon his own will, and not that word 
which revealeth God's. Yet because he that will 
serve himself, would fain deceive himself too (that 
so he may hot do it with less regret of conscience) 

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and would fam seem God's servant, but be his own, 
therefore corrupt reason sets itself on work to exco- 
gitate such distinctions and evasions, as may serve to 
reconcile God's word and a man's own lust together. 
Lust says, Steal ; God says, No, ** thou shalt not 
steal ;" carnal reason, the advocate of lust, comes in 
and distinguisheth : I may not steal from a neighbour, 
but I may weaken an enemy, or pay myself the 
stipend that belongs to my service, if others do not ; 
and under this evasion, most innocent men may be 
made a prey to violent soldiers, who use the name of 
public interest to palliate their own greediness. Cer- 
tainly, it is a high presumption to tamper with the 
word of truth, and make it bear &lse witness in 
favour of our own sins; and God will bring it to a 
foial at last, whose will shall stand> his or ours. 

Lastly : this serveth as an excellent boundary, both 
to the ministration of the preacher, and to the faith of 
the hearer, in the dispensing of the word. L To us 
in our ministry, that we deliver nothing unto the 
people but the right ways of the Lord, without any 
commixtures or con-temporations of our own. Mix- 
tures are useful only for these two purposes, either to 
slacken and abate something that is excessive, or to 
supply something that is deficient, and to collect a 
virtue and efficacy out of many things, each one of 
which alone would have been ine£fectual, and so all 
heterogeneous mixtures do plainly intimate, either a 
viciousness to be corrected, or a weakness to be supJ 
plied, in every one of the simples which are by humam 
wisdom tempered together in order unto some effect \ 
to be wrought by them. Now it were great wicked- • 
ness to charge any one of these upon the pure and 
perfect word of God; and by consequence, to use 
deceit and insincerity, by adulterating it, either by 

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such glosses as diminish and take away from the. force 
of it, as the Pharisees did in their carnal interpreta- 
tions, (confuted by our Saviour, Matt. v. 21. 27. 
38. 43.) or by such super-inducements of human 
traditions as argue any defect, as they also did use. 
Matt. xv. 2. 9. Human arts and learning are of 
excellent use, as instruments in the managing and 
searching, and as means and witnesses in the expli- 
cation of holy writ, when piously and prudently 
directed unto those uses. But to stamp any thing 
of but a human original with a divine character, and 
obtrude it upon the consciences of men (as the pa- 
pists do their unwritten traditions) to bind unto obe- 
dience, to take any dead child of ours, as the harlot 
did, 1 Kings iii. 20. and lay it in the bosom of the 
scripture, and father it upon God ; to build any struc- 
ture of ours in the road to heaven, and stop up the 
way, is one of the highest and most daring presump* 
tions that the pride of man can aspire unto : to erect 
a throne in the consciences of his fellow-creatures, 
and to counterfeit the great seal of Heaven for the 
countenancing of his own forgeries, is a sin most 
severely provided against by God, with special prohi- 
bitions and threatenings, Deut. xii. 32. xviii. 20. 
Jer. xxvi. 2. Prov. xxx. 6. This therefore must be 
the great care of the ministers of the gospel, to show 
their fidelity in delivering only the counsel of God 
unto his people. Acts xx. 27. to be as the two golden 
pipes which received oil from the olive-branches, and 
then emptied it into the gold, Zech. iv. 12. First, 
to receive from the Lord, and then to deliver to 
the peojple, Ezek. ii. 7. Isa. xxi. 10. Ezek. iii. 4. 
1 Cor. xi. 23. 1 Pet. iv. 11. 2. The people are 
hereby taught; (1.) To examine the doctrines of 
men by the rule and standard of the word, and to 

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measure them there, that so they may not he seduced 
by the craftiness of deceivers, and may be the more 
confirmed and comforted by the doctrine of sincere 
teachers ; for though the judgment of interpretation 
belong principally to the ministers of the word, yet 
God hath given unto all believers a judgment of dis- 
cretion, to try the spirits, and to search the scriptures, 
whether the things which they hear be so or not, 
1 John iv. 1. Acts xvii. 11. 1 Thess. v. 21. for no 
man is to pin his own soul and salvation by a blind 
obedience upon the words of a man who may mislead 
him ; nay, not upon the, words of an angel, if it were 
possible for an angel to deceive, Gal. i. 8. 1 Kings 
xiii. 18. 21. but only and immediately upon the scrip- 
ture, except when the blind lead the blind, the leader 
only should fall into the ditch, and the other go to 
heaven for his blind obedience in following his guides 
towards hell ; whereas our Saviour tells us both shall 
fall, though but one be the leader. Matt. xv. 14. 
xxiii. 15. (2.) Having proved all things, to hold 
fast that wmch is good, with all readiness to receive 
the righteous ways of God, and submit unto them, 
how mean soever the instruments be in our eyes, how 
contrary soever his message be to our wills and lusts. 
When God doth manifest his spirit and word in the 
mouths of his ministers, we are not to consider the 
vessel, but the treasure, and to receive it as from 
Christ, who to the end of the world, in the dispensa- 
tion of his ordinances, speaketh from heaven unto the 
church, 1 Thess. ii. 13. 2 Cor. v. 20. Heb. xii. 25. 
Matt, xxviii. 20. 

Further : in that it is said, that the just will walk 
in them, we may observe two things. 

1. That obedience, and walking in the right ways 
of the Lord, is the end of the ministry, that the 
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saints might be perfected that the body of Christ 
might be edified, that men might grow up into Christ 
in all things, £ph. iv. 11. 15. that their eyes might 
be opened, and they turned from darkness to light, 
and from the power of Satan unto God, Acts xxvi. 
16 — 18. The prophet concludeth that he hath 
laboured in vain ; if Israel be not gathered, Isa. 
xUx. 4, 5. Without this, the law is vain, the pen of 
the scribe is vain, Jer. viii. 8. better not know the 
way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn 
from the holy commandment which was delivered 
unto us, 2 Pet. iL 21. We should esteem it a 
great misery to be without preaching, without ordi- 
nances, and so indeed it is ; of all famine, that of 
the word of the Lord is the most dreadful ; better be 
with God's presence in a wilderness, than in Canaan 
without him, Exod. xxxiii. 15. better bread of afflic- 
tion, and water of affliction, than a famine of hearing 
the word ; to have our teachers removed, Amos viii. 
11. Isa. XXX. 20. this is mischief upon mischief, when 
the law perisheth from the priest, and there is no 
vision, Ezek. vii. 26. and yet it is much better to be 
in this case, without a teaching priest, and without 
the law, than to enjoy them, and not to walk answer- 
ably unto them ; where the word is not a savour of 
life, it is a savour of death unto death, exceedingly 
multiplying the damnation of those that do despise it, 
fe Cor. ii. 15, 16. Matt xi. 22. 24. 1. It doth ripen 
those sins that it finds, making them much more 
sinful than in other men, because committed against 
greater light and more mercy. One and the same 
sin in a heathen is not so heinous and hateful as in a 
christian. Those trees on which the sun constantly 
shines, have their fruit grow riper and greater than 
those which grow in a shady and cold place. The 

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ON H08EA XIV. VEIUE 9. 291 

rain will hasten the growth as well of weeds as of 
com, and make them ranker than in a dry and 
barren ground, John ix. 41. xv. 22. 24. 2. It doth 
superadd many more and greater ; for the greatest 
sins of all are those which are committed against 
light and grace ; sins against the law and prophets, 
greater than those that are committed against the 
glimmerings of nature, Ezek, ii. 8. 5 — 7. and sins 
against Christ and the gospel, greater than those 
against the law, Heb. ii. 2; x. 28, 29. Such are, 
unbelief, impenitency, apostacy, despising of salvation, 
preferring death and sin before Christ and mercy ; 
judging ourselves unworthy of eternal life, &c. 8. 
It doth by these means both hasten and multiply 
judgments. The sins of the church are much sooner 
ripe for the sickle than the sins of Amorites ; they 
are near unto cursing, Heb. vi. 8. Summer fruits 
are sooner shaken off than others, Amos viii. 1. Jer. 
i 11, 12. Christ comes quickly to remove his can- 
dlestick from the abusers of it, Rev. ii. 5. The 
word is a rich mercy in itself, but nothing makes it 
effectually and in the event a mercy unto us but our 
walking in it. 

2. We learn from hence, that we never make the 
scriptures our rule to live and walk according unto 
them, till we be first justified, and made righteous. 
Our obedience to the rule of the law written in the 
scriptures, proceedeth from those suitable impressions 
of holiness wrought in the soul by the spirit of rege- 
neration, which is called the writing of the law in our 
hearts, Jer. xxxi. 33. 2 Cor. iii. 3. or the casting of 
the soul into the mould of the word, as the phrase of 
the apostle seemeth to import, Rom. vi. vii. We are 
never fit to receive God's truth in the love and obe- 
dience of it, till we repent and be renewed. If Cod, 
2b 2 

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ftaith the apostle, will give repentance for the ac- 
knowledgment of the truth, 2 Tim. ii. 25. The wise 
in heart, that is, those who are truly godly, (for none 
but such are the scripture's wise men,) these will re- 
ceive commandments ; but a prating fool will fall, 
Prov. X. 8. where by prating I understand cavilling, 
contradiction, taking exceptions, making objections 
against the commandment, and so falling and stum- 
bling at it, according to the saying of the apostle, 
James i. 19 — ^21. '* Let every man be swift to hear," 
that is, ready to learn the will of God, and to receive 
the commandment ; but slow to speak, slow to wrath, 
that is, careful that he suffer no pride and passion to 
rise up and speak against the things which are taught, 
according as Job says, *'*' Teach me, and I will hold 
my peace," Job vi. 24. for the only reason why men 
fret and swell, and speak against the trutli of God, is 
this, because they will not work righteousness : " The 
wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God," 
therefore men are contentious, because they love not 
to obey the truth, Rom. ii. 8. disobedience is the mo- 
ther of gainsaying, Rom. x. 21. When we once re- 
solve to lay apart all filthiness, then we will receive 
the word with meekness, and not before ; none hear 
God's words, but they who are of God, John viii. 47. 
None hear the voice of Christ, but the sheep of 
Christ, John x. 4, 5. Christ preached is the power 
of God, and the wisdom of God ; but it is only to 
them that are called; to others a stumbling block, 
and foolishness, 1 Cor. i. 24. " We speak wisdom," 
saith the apostle, but it is ^* amongst them that are per- 
fect," 1 Cor. ii. 6. He that is subject unto one prince, 
doth not greatly care to study the laws of another : 
or if he do, it is in order to curiositv, and not unto 
duty. So long as men resolve concernmg Christ, *' We 

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will not have this man to reign over us," so long either 
tliey study not his word at all, or it is in order to 
some carnal and corrupt ends, and not either to obe- 
dience or salvation. 

Hereby we may try our spiritual estate, whether 
we be just men or no ; if we make God's word our 
way, our rule, our delight, laying it up in our hearts, 
and labouring to be rich in it, that we may walk with 
more exactness. It was an ill sign of love to Christ, 
the master of the feast, when men chose rather to 
tend their cattle and grounds, than to wait on him, 
Luke xiv. 18. An ill sign of valuing his doctrine, 
when the loss of their swine made the Gadarenes 
weary of his company, Luke viii. 37. There was 
much work to do in the house, when Mary neglected 
it all, and sat at his feet to hear his doctrine, and yet 
was commended by him for it ? He was better pleased 
to see her hunger after the feast that he brought, 
than solicitous to provide a feast for him ; more de- 
lighted in her love to his doctrine, than her sister's 
care for his entertainment, Luke x. 41, 42. This is 
one of the surest characters of a godly man, that he 
makes the word in all things his rule and counsellor, 
labouring continually to get more acquaintance with 
God, and his holy will thereby, Prov. x. 14. Col. 
iii. 16. John xv. 7. It is his way ; and every man 
endeavours to be skilful in the way which he is to 
travel. It is his tool and instrument ; every work- 
man must have that in a readiness, to measure and 
carry on all the parts of his work. It is his wisdom ; 
every one would be esteemed a wise man in that 
which is his proper function and profession. It is 
the mystery and trade unto which he is bound ; and 
every man would have the reputation of skill in his 
own trade. It is his charter, the grant of all tho 

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privileges and immunities which belong unto him ; 
and every citizen would willingly know the privileges 
which he hath a right in. It is the testament and 
will of Christ, wherein are given unto us exceeding 
great and precious promises ; and what heir or child 
would be ignorant of the last will of his father? 
Lastly, it is the law of Christ's kingdom, and it con- 
cerns every subject to know the duties, the rewards, 
the punishments that belong unto him in that 

Again, in that he saith, that the transgressors shall 
faP therein, we learn, that the holy and right ways 
of he Lord in the ministry of his word set forth unto 
u&, are unto wicked men turned into matter of falling ; 
and that two manner of ways. 1. By way of scandal 
they are offended at it : and, 2. By way of ruin, they 
are destroyed by it. 

1. By way of scandal they are offended at it. So 
it is prophesied of Christ ; that as he should be for 
a sanctuary unto his people ; so to others who would 
not trust in him, but betake themselves to their own 
counsels, he should be for a stone of stumbling, and 
for a rock of offence, for a gin and for a snare, 
Isa. viii. 14. " for the fall and the rising again of 
many in Israel, and for a sign to be spoken against," 
Luke ii. 34, 35. So he saith of himself, " For judg- 
ment am I come into this world, that they which see 
not, might see ; and that they which see, might be made 
blind," John ix, 39. And this ofiFence which wicked 
men take at Christ, is firom the purity and holiness 
of his word which they cannot submit unto ; a stone 
of stumbling he is, and a rock of offence, to them 
who stumble at the word, being disobedient, 1 Pet. 
ii. 8. 2 Cor. ii. 14, 15. Thus Christ preached, was 
a sanctuary to Sergius Paulus the deputy, and a 

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stumbling block to Elymas the sorcerer ; a sanctuary 
to Dionysius and Damaris, and a stumbling block to 
the wits and philosophers of Athens ; a sanctuary to 
the Gentiles that begged the preaching of the gospel, 
and a stumbling block to the Jews that contradicted 
and blasphemed, Acts xiii. 42. 45. the former pri- 
marily, for salvation was the purpose of his coming ; 
there was sin enough to condemn the world before ; 
" I came not," saith he, '* to judge the world, but to save 
the world,** John xii, 47. the other occasionally^ 
not by any intrinsical evil quality in the word, which 
is holy, just, good, and dealeth with all meekness and 
beseechings, even towards obstinate sinners ; but by 
reason of the pride and stubbornness of these men 
who dash against it : as that wholesome meat which 
ministers strength to a sound man, doth but feed the 
disease of another that sits at the same table with 
him ; the same light which is a pleasure to a strong 
eye, is a pin to a weak one ; the same sweet smells 
that delight one part, afflict another when distempered : 
and none of this by the infusion of malignant qua- 
lities, but only by an occasional working upon, and 
exciting of those which were there before. 

And there are many things in the word of God, at 
which the corrupt hearts of wicked men are apt to 
stumble and be offended. As, first, the profoundness 
and depth of it, as containing great mysteries above 
the discovery or search of created reason. Such is 
the pride and wantonness of sinful wit, that it knows 
not how to believe what it cannot comprehend, and 
must have all doctrines tried at her bar, and measured 
by her balance ; as if a man should attempt to weigh 
out the earth in a pair of scales, or to empty the 
waters of the sea with a bucket. As soon as Paul 
mentioned the resurrection, presently the Athenian 

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wits Riocked liis doctrine, Acts xvii. 32. and it was a 
great stumbling block to Nicodemus to hear that a 
man- must be bom again, John iii. 4. Sarah liath 
much ado to believe beyond reason, Gen. xviii. 12. 
and Moses himself was a little staggered by this 
temptation, Num. xi, 21, 22. A very hard thing it is 
for busy and inquisitive reason to rest in the depth of 
the wisdom and counsel of God ; and to adore the 
unsearchableness of his judgments, though even 
human laws tell us that reason of law is not always 
to be inquired into. The first great heresies against 
the highest mysteries of christian religion, the Trinity, 
the two natures of Christ, the hypostatical union, the 
Deity of the Holy Spirit, had their first rise among 
the Grecians, who were then the masters of wit and 
learning, and esteemed the rest of the world barba- 
rous ; and the old exception which they were wont 
to take at the doctrine of Christianity was the foolish- 
ness of it, as the apostle notes, 1 Cor. i. 23. 

The sanctity and strictness of it is contrary to the 
carnal wills and affections of men : for as corruption 
doth deify reason in the way of wisdom, not willingly 
allowing any mysteries above the scrutiny and com-^ 
prehension of it ; so doth it deify will in a way of 
liberty and power, and doth not love to have any 
authority set over that which may pinch or restrain 
it As Joshua said to Israel, " Ye cannot serve the 
Lord, for he is a holy God," Josh. xxiv. 19. we may 
say of the law, we cannot submit to the law because 
it is a holy law ; the carnal mind is not, cannot be, 
subject to the law of God, Rom. viii. 7. Heat and 
cold will ever be offensive unto one another, and such 
are flesh and spirit. Gal. v. 17. Therefore ordinarily 
the arguments a^inst the ways of God, have been 
drawn from politic or carnal interests.' Jeroboam will 

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not worship at Jerusalem, lest Israel should revolt 
to the house of David, 1 Kings xii. 27. Amos must 
not prophesy against the idolatry of Israel, for the 
land is not ahle to bear all his words, Amos vii. 10. 
The Jews conclude Christ must not be let alone, lest 
the Romans come and take away their place and 
nation, John xi. 48. Demetrius and the craftsmen 
will by no means have Diana spoken against, because 
by making shrines for her they got their wealth. Acts 
xix. 24, 25. Corruption will close with religion a 
great way, and hear gladly, and do many things will- 
ingly, and part with much to escape damnation ; but 
there is a particular point of rigour and strictness in 
every unregenerate man's case, which when it is set 
on close upon him, causeth him to stumble, and to 
be offended, and to break the treaty. The hypocrites 
in the prophet will give rams, and rivers of oil, and 
the first-born of their body for the sin of their soul : 
but to " do justly, to love mercy, to walk humbly 
with God," to do away the treasures of wickedness, the 
scant measure, the bag of deceitful weights, violence, 
lies, circumvention, the statutes of Omri, or the 
counsels of the house of Ahab ; this is intolerable : 
they will rather venture smiting and desolation than 
be held to so severe terms, Mic. vi. 6. 16. The 
young man will come to Christ, yea, run to him and 
kneel, and desire instruction touching the way to 
eternal life, and walk with much care in observation 
of the commandments ; but if he must part with all, 
and instead of great possessions, take up a cross and 
follow Christ, and fare as he fared, this is indeed a 
hard saying: he that came running, went away 
grieving and displeased, and upon this one point doth 
he and Christ part, Mark x. 17. 22. Herod will 
hear John gladly, and do many things, and observe 

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and reverence him as a just and holy man ; but in 
the case of Herodias he must be excused ; upon tliisi 
issue doth he and salvation shake hands, Mark vi. 
20. 27. This is the difference between hypocritical 
and sincere conversion ; that goes £u*, and parts with 
much, and proceeds to almost ; but when it comes 
to the very turning point, and ultimate act of regene- 
ration, he then plays the part of an unwise son, and 
stays in the place of the breaking forth of children, 
Hos. xiii. 13. As a foolish merchant, who in a rich 
bargain of a thousand pounds breaks upon a difference 
of twenty shillings : but the other is contented to 
part with all, to suffer the loss of all, to carry on the 
treaty to a full and final conclusion, to have all the 
armour of the strong man taken from him, that 
Christ may divide the spoils, Luke xi. 22. to do 
the hardest duties if they be commanded, Gen. 
xxii. 3. 

The searching, convincing, and penetrating quality 
which is in the word, is a great matter of offence 
unto wicked men, when it cuts them to the heart, as 
Stephen's sermon did his hearers. Acts vii. 54. Light 
is of a discovering and manifesting property, £ph. 
V. 13. and for that reason, is hated by every one 
that doth evil, John iii. 20. for though the pleasure 
of sin unto a wicked man be sweet, yet there is bit- 
terness in the root and bottom of it ; he who loves 
to enjoy the pleasure, cannot endure to hear of the 

Now the work of the word is to take men in their 
own heart, Ezek. xiv. 5. to make manifest to a man 
the secrets of his own heart, 1 Cor. xiv. 25. to pierce, 
like arrows, the hearts of God's enemies, Psa. xiv. 5. 
to divide asunder the soul and spirits, the joints and 
marrow, and to be a discemcr of the ilioughts and 

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ON HOSEA XrV. — VXASE 9. 299 

intents of the heart, Heb. iv. 12. Isa. xlix. 2. This 
act of discovery cannot but exceedingly gall the 
spirits of wicked men : it is like the voice of God unto 
Adam in Paradise, " Adam, where art thou ?" or like 
the voice of Ahijah to the wife of Jeroboam, " I am 
sent unto thee with heavy tidings," 1 Kings xiv. 6. 

The plainness and simplicity of the gospel is like- 
wise matter of offence to these men, 2 Cor. x. 10. and 
that partly upon the preceding reason ; for the more 
plain the word is, the more immediate access it hath 
unto the conscience, and operation upon it. So much 
as is merely human elegancy, fineness of wit, and 
delicacv of expression, doth oftentimes stop at fancy, 
and take that up, as the body of Asahel caused the 
passers by to stand still and gaze, 2 Sam. ii. 23. And 
wicked men can be contented to admit the word any 
whither, so they can keep it out of their conscience, 
which is the only proper subject of it, 2 Cor. iv. 2. 
When I hear men magnify quaint and polite dis- 
courses in the ministry of the word, and speak against 
sermons that are plain and wholesome, I look upon it 
not so much as an act of pride, (though the wis- 
dom of the flesh is very apt to scorn the simplicity of 
the gospel,) but indeed as an act of fear and cowardice, 
because where all other external trimmings and 
dresses are wanting to tickle the fancy, where the 
word hath the more downright and sad operation upon 
the conscience, and must consequently the more 
startle and terrify. 

The great difficulty and indeed impossibility of 
obeying it in the strictness and rigour of it, is another 
ground of scandal, that God in his word should com- 
mand men to do that which indeed cannot be done ; 
this was matter of astonishment to the disciples them- 
selves, when our Saviour told them that it was ** easier 

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for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than 
for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God,* 
Mark x. 25. This was a cavil of the disputant in the 
apostle, against the counsels of God, " Why doth he 
et find fault V* if he harden whom he will, why doth 
e complain of our hardness, which it is impossible 
for us to prevent, because none can resist his will ? 
Rom. ix. 19. Now to this scandal we answer; 1. 
That the law of God was not originally, nor is it in- 
trinsically, or in the nature of the thing impossible, 
but accidentally, and by reason of natural corruption 
which is enmity against it ; a burden may be very 
portable in itself, which he who is a cripple is not 
able to bear ; the defect is not in the law, but in us, 
Kom. viii. 3. 2. That of this impossibility there 
may be made a most excellent use, that being con- 
vinced of impotency in ourselves, we may have re- 
course to the perfect obedience and righteousness of 
Christ, to pardon all our violations upon it. Gal. iii. 
21. 24. 3. Being regenerated and endued with 
the Spirit of Christ, the law becomes evangelically 
possible unto us again; yea, not only possible, but 
sweet and easy, Rom. vii. 2. 1 John v. 2. Matt. xi. 
30. Though impossible to the purpose of justifica- 
tion and legal covenant, which requireth perfection 
of obedience under pain of the curse, Gal. iii. 10. iu 
which sense it is a yoke which cannot be borne, Acts 
XV. 10. A commandment which cannot be endured; 
Heb. xii. 20. yet possible to the purpose of accepta- 
tion of our services done in the obedience of it ; the 
spiritual part of them being presented by the inter- 
cession, and the carnal defects covered by the 
righteousness of Christ, in whom the Father is al- 
ways well pleased. 4. If any wicked man presume 
to harden lumself in the practice of sins, under this 

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pretence, that it is impcMsslble for him to avoid them, 
because God hardeneth whom he will ; though tlie 
apostolical increpation be answer sufficient, *' Who 
art thou that repliest against God V* yet he may fur- 
ther know, that he is not only hardened judicially by 
the sentence of God, but most willingly also by his 
own stubborn love of sin, and giving himself over 
unto greediness in sinning, and thereby doth actively 
bring upon himself those indispositions unto duty, so 
that the law being impossible to be performed by 
him, is indeed no other than lie would himself have 
it to be, as bearing an active enmity and antipathy 
unto it 

The mercy and free grace of God in the promises, 
is unto wicked men an occasion of stumbling while 
they turn it into lasciviousness, and continue in sin 
that grace may abound, Rom. vi. 1. Jude, ver. 4. 
and venture to make work for the blood of Christ, 
not being led by the goodness of God unto repentance, 
but hai3ening themselves in impenitency because 
God is good, Rom. ii. 4. There is not anythinpr at 
which widied men do more ordinarily stumble than 
at mercy, as gluttons surfeit most upon the greatest 
dainties, venturing upon this ground to go on in sin, 
because they cannot out>sin mercy ; and to put off 
repentance from day to day, because they are still 
under the offers of mercy; making mercy not a 
sanctuary unto which to fly from sin, but a sanctuary 
to protect and countenance sin ; and so by profane 
and desperate presumption, turning the very mercy of 
God into a judgment, and savour of death unto them- 
selves, Deut. xxix. 19, 20. Num. xv. 30. pretending 
liberty from sin, that they may continue in it, and 
abuse God by his own gifts. 

Lastly, the threatenings of God set forth in his 
2 c 

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word, and executed in his judgments upon wicked men, 
are great occasions of stumbling unto them, when 
they are not thereby with Manasseh humbled under 
God's mighty hand, but with Pharaoh hardened the 
more in their stubbonmess against him. There is 
such desperate wickedness in the hearts of some men, 
that they can even sit down and rest in the resolutions 
of perishing, resolving to enjoy the pleasures of sin 
while they may. " To-morrow we shall die," there- 
fore in the mean time, ** let us eat and drink,*' 1 Cor. 
XV, 32. " This evil is of the Lord, why should we wait 
for the Lord any longer ?" 2 Kings vi. 33. There 
are three men in the scripture that have a special 
brand or mark of ignominy set upon them, Cain, 
Dathan, and Ahaz. ** The Lord set a mark upon 
Cain," Gen. iv. 15. This is that Dathan, and this is 
that Ahaz, Numb. xxvi. 9. 2 Chron. xxviii 22. and if 
we examine the reasons, we shall find that the sin of 
stubbornness had a special hand in it. Cain*s offer- 
ing was not accepted, upon this he grew wroth and 
sullen, and stubborn against God's gentle warning, 
and slew his brother. Dathan and his companions 
sent for by Moses, return a proud and stubborn an- 
swer, " We will not come up, we will not come up." 
Ahaz greatly distressed by the king of Syria, by the 
Edomites, by the Philistines, by the Assyrian, and in 
the midst of all this distress, stubborn still, and tres- 
passing more against the Lord. It is one of the 
saddest symptoms in the world for a man or a nation 
not to be humbled under the correcting hand of God, 
but like an anvil to grow harder under blows, and a 
most sure argument that God will not give over, but 
go on to multiply his judgments still ; for he will 
overcome when he judgeth, and therefore will judge 
till he overcome. In musical notation, there are but 

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ON H08EA XIV. — VERSE 9. 30 . 

ligkt degrees, and then the same leturns again ; and 
philosophers when they distinguish degrees in qua- 
lities, do usually make the eighth degree to he the 
highest ; hut in the wrath of God against those who 
impenitently and stuhbomly stand out against his 
judgments, we shall find no fewer than eight and 
twenty degrees threatened by God himself, " I will 
punish seven times more," and yet " seven times more," 
and again, '* seven times more," and once more, 
" seven times more for your sins," Lev. xxvi. 18. 
21. 24. 28. Thus wicked men do not only stumble 
at the word by way of scandal, but also — 

2. By way of ruin, because they are sure in the 
conclusion to be destroyed by it ; for the rock stands 
still, the i^ip only is broken that dasheth against it. 
God*s word is, and will be too hard for the pride of 
men; the more they resist it, the mightier will it 
appear in their condemnation. The weak corn which 
yields to the wind, is not harmed by it, but the proud 
oak which resists it, is many times broken in pieces. 
The soul which submits to the word, is saved by it ; the 
soul which rebels against it, is sure to perish. There- 
fore since the word comes not to any man in vain, 
but returns glory to God either in his conversion, or 
in his hardening ; it greatly concerneth every man to 
come unto it, with meek, penitent, docile, tractable, 
believing, obedient resolutions, and to consider how 
vain and desperate a thing it is for a potsherd to strive 
with a rod of iron ; for 3ie pride and wrath of man 
to give a challenge to the justice and power of God ; 
for briers and thorns to set themselves in battle agains* 
fire. As our God is a consuming fire himself, sc 
his law is a fiery law, Deut. xxxiii. 2. and his worJ 
in the mouth of his ministers a fire, Jer. v. 14. 23. 29 
If we be gold, it will purge us; if thorns, it wiL 

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devour and feed upon us. '* This is the condemnation/' 
saith our Saviour, '* that light is come into the world, 
and men love darkness rather than light," John iii. 19. 
There was damnation in the world before while it lay 
in darkness, and in mischief, and knew not whither 
It went, but not so heavy damnation as that which 
groweth out of light. When physic, which should 
remove the disease, doth cooperate with it, then death 
comes with the more pain and the more speed. The 
stronger the conviction of sin Is, the deeper will be 
the wrath against it, if it be not by repentance 
avoided. No surfeit more dangerous than that of 
bread, no judgment more terrible than that which 
grrows out of mercy, known and despised ; ** The 
word which I have spoken," saith Christ, '' the same 
shall judge you at the last day," John xii. 4S. Every 
principle of truth, which is by the word begotten in 
the hearts of disobedient sinners, and is held down, 
and suppressed by unrighteousness, lies there like 
fire raked up under ashes, which at that great day 
will kindle into an unquenchable flame. The word 
can bring much of hell upon the spirit of impenitent 
sinners here. It can hew, and cut, and pierce, and 
bum, and torment, and root out, and pull down, and 
destroy, and strike with trembling and amazement 
the proudest and securest sinners, Hos. vi. 5. Acts 
vii. 54. Heb. iv. 12. Isa. xlix. 2. Psa. xlv. 5. Rev. 
xi. 5. 10. Jer. i. 10. 2 Cor. x. 4. Acts xxiv. 25. 
We need no messengers from the dead to tell us of 
the torments there : all the rhetoric in hell cannot 
set forth hell more to the life than Moses and the 
prophets have done already, Luke xvi. 31. But oh 
what a hell will it be at last, when the word which 
warned us of it, shall throw us into it I When every 
offer of mercy which we have refused, and.jevery 

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ON H08EA XIV.^JTERSE 9. 305 

threatening of wrath which we have despised, shall 
accompany us unto the tribunal of Christ, to testify 
against us, and into the fire of hell, to upbraid us 
with our own perdition ! Oh the doleful condition of 
impenitent sinners ! If they have not the word, they 
perish for the want ; and if they have it, they perish 
doubly for the contempt of it. O that men would 
consider the terror of the Lord, and be persuaded ! 
and that they would learn so much wisdom, as not to 
arm the very mercy of God against themselves. A 
bridge is made to give us a safe passage over a dan- 
gerous river, but he who stumbles on the bridge, is 
in danger to fall into the river. The word is given 
as a means to carry us over hell unto heaven ; but he 
who stumbles and quarrels at this means, shall fall in 
thither, from whence otherwise he had been delivered 
by it 

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